One of the most interesting issues within the Arab countries is the fact that each Arab person believes that his/her country is certainly the best amongst the Arab region! So, when you are negotiating a business deal with an Egyptian, for example, avoid mentioning that you have a same business with a Kuwaiti, or a Syrian, or any other Arab. Main Cultural Characteristics: Morrison, Conaway and Borden (1994) sustain that nearly all Egyptians speak only Arabic, but Egyptian business people, who deal with foreigners speak either English or French or both, in addition to Arabic.
About 90% of the population is Sunni Muslims and most of the remaining 10% are Coptic Catholics. Egyptians are open to any information that doesn't conflict with Islamic values. They are the most open to the Westerners amongst all other Arabic cultures. Economically, Egypt suffers from its high birth rate that reduces most development efforts and part of investment. Egypt is very universalistic, but Islam teaches that you must trust first your brothers and sisters, before trusting anybody else. Thus, Egyptians will give priority to deals and firms led by other Arabs or from other Arab countries before dealing with Westerners.
It is therefore advised that when you seek opening or expanding in the Egyptian market, it would be wise to use Arab negotiators or, at least, intermediaries with Arabic cultural background. What is worth knowing when dealing with Egyptians? Faith in Islamic Law is the primary source of truth. This truth can be modified by the personal feelings one has about a situation or a problem. Thus, highly educated Egyptians may use facts and reason objectively. The male leader is the locus of decision in any negotiation and decision making, but he will make decisions through a consensus of his group or his collectivity.
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The individual is always subordinate to the family, group or community. There is no other possible life outside a network of kin relationships. Remember that: -The pace of business is much slower than in the West and decision taking will take longer. You are required to hire an Egyptian agent to do any business in Egypt. The Egyptian will not even want to speak with you until he knows and likes you. Business meetings always start with long inquiries on one's health and journey. Don't dare forcing the pace, unless you want to loose the deal! These cultural features are present in quite all Arab countries. (Lewis 2004) .
Doing Business in Kuwait Despite its ancient history, Kuwait has been recognized as a fully independent nation only since 1961, when British rule ended. In fact, this corner of the Middle East has been occupied for thousands of years. Morrison, Conaway and Borden 1994 argue that there are archeological evidences of life in Kuwait dating back to around 1000 B. C. Today's massive oil reserves were not discovered until 1930s. Only those families who can trace their residency in Kuwait to before 1920 are allowed the full benefits of citizenship. This leaves almost a million of Kuwaiti nationals as second-class citizens in their own land.
Furthermore, some 70,000 Bedouins have been denied Kuwaiti citizenship of any sort. They remain stateless persons, unwanted by any country. It is very important for all to bear in mind that nationality is a vital issue in Kuwait. Cultural Orientation According to Lewis (2004) and Morrison, Conaway & Borden (1994), in Kuwait people are closed to any information that doesn't reflect or emanate from Islamic cultural values. Kuwaitis are taught since the youth to think associatively; they approach all problems subjectively according to the tenets of Islamic law. Truth is found in Islamic law; so faith in its ideologies permeates all discussions.
Subjective feelings are the only way of knowing the truth of any situation. Thus, objective facts may have no or little use in negotiations. Like in Egypt, security is found in family loyalty and absolute submission to Islamic law. Tribal loyalty will influence hiring and employment even among foreign firms and companies. Within Islam all believers are equal and united in the Ulema. However, some tribes feel superior to others. Traditional respect to literacy and aversion to manual labor has created a need for a large number of foreign workers, with varying degrees of acceptance.
Men and women are considered to be qualitatively different in emotion and intellect. Public life is exclusively a male life. Lewis 2004. Business Practices Morrison, Conaway and Borden (1994) sustain that in Kuwait, an appointment is rarely private. The meeting will be interrupted by phone calls and visits from host's friends and family members. Westerners find frequently these distractions infuriating. You must try to maintain your equanimity in such situations. Kuwaiti officials are prohibited to work more than six hours per day; morning hours are usually best indicated for appointments.
Government employment is a kind of welfare system rather than a method of running an industrialized state. Thus, do not expect your Kuwaiti workers to be concerned by productivity or by the duty. During a negotiating meeting or a presentation, the person, who asks many questions, is usually the least important in the decision-making chain. The real decision maker is probably, elderly Kuwaiti who watches everything but never speaks to you directly. Bring plenty of copies of promotional materials, so that each person can have one. There is no hurry in Kuwait and negotiators are not afraid by long silences.
So, do not feel obliged to talk during numerous and long periods of silence. It is possible that you will never meet the real decision maker, but don't worry for that. 3. 3 Business Practices in Israel Although Israel is geographically located in the Middle East, it is not an Arab country! Morrison, Conaway ; Borden 1994 claim that the two official languages of Israel are Jewish and Arabic. Other languages met here are French, English, Yiddish and Russian. The population of Israel comes from all over the world and only 60% of Israeli Jews are native-born. So, many different cultural traditions are represented.
As a result, business practices may be North-American, Russian, European, Arabic, or anything in between! Thus, doing business in Israel requires real multicultural skills. Israel's need to survive as a state permeates all value systems. The following issues identify the value systems in the predominant culture-their methods of dividing right from wrong, good from evil, and so forth. Although there are still some collectives, there is a clear emphasis on individual initiative and achievement and a strong belief in individual decision-making without any social and business groups pressure.
A strong nuclear family does still exist; it is the basis for socialization and gives its members a sense of social identity. Israel is a democratic and egalitarian culture built on open competition. Military education and service influences make the society feel equal. Though there are inequalities in roles, equal rights are guaranteed to all. Strong biases do exist against the Palestinians and other Arabs, as do some biases against Jews from different countries. A. What Every Foreign Businessman Should Know Morrison, Conaway and Borden (1994) note that even in Israel, punctuality is not the best traditional value.
We are still in a Middle-easterner country! If, for example, your clients are Sephardim or Palestinians, they may be late for appointment or not show up at all. However, they may have adopted and developed more Western attitudes toward punctuality. Most of, but not all- Ashkenazim tend to be more prompt in business. It is standard Middle-East to keep foreign business people waiting. Until you get to know your clients, it is unwise to schedule more than two appointments per day. Westerners are surprised when they find such practices in Israel. It is important to be aware that Israel belongs to the Middle Eastern Culture!
Like in any other Arabic country, an appointment is rarely private among traditional Israeli Arab business people. Visits and telephone calls will go on uninterrupted during your meeting with your counterparts. So, don't get infuriated by such practices. The Jewish holy day is the Sabbath that begins at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday. Morrison, Conaway and Borden 1994 advise Westerners that no business is conducted on the Sabbath. Business days are from Sunday to Thursday, as Friday is a holy day for Muslims. But, even on the days businesses are conducted, work hours vary widely.
Open hours depend on the religion of the owner of the business. Most Jewish businesses are closed on Fridays afternoon and on Saturdays. Islamic-owned establishments are closed all day on Fridays and Christians work and run their businesses the whole week, but Sundays. Remember Palestinians may be either Muslim or Christian. Remember Judaic and Christian months are different in duration: Our month has 30/31 days but Judaic month has 28 days only. Dealing with Iranians Israel and Iran are not Arabic countries, though they are found in Middle-East.
We have explored cultural values and related problems encountered in Israel; so, let us look into the Iranian case. Iran is the land of Indo-Europeans and its culture goes back more than 3000 years, according to Lewis 2004. Economically, Iran is a very interesting country. 3. 4. 1 Doing Business with Iran and Dealing with Iranians Lewis 2004 sustains that Iranians, or Persian, culture comes from a strong tradition and a sense of leadership and power south of the Caspian. While Muslim, they identify little with the numerous Arab states in the Gulf.
Their cultural classification is multi-active and dialogue oriented, although they are much less loquacious than Arabs. A. Cultural Values Iranian values, as itemized by them, are chiefly: Islamic faith and values as opposed to Western, neighborliness, kindness and gentleness, caution in decision making, respect for wisdom of the old, politeness, seriousness ; dignity, traditional music ; literature, new technology, research ; invention, hospitality, family, spirituality, clemency, academic achievement, respect for the Islamic role of women, their cultural achievements, design and pattern In modern Iran, spiritual leadership is dominant.
Example: the spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini forced the then very powerful and tough Shah of the Pahlavi monarchy to go in 1979 and, since then, Mullah Rule has continued up to now. In economic terms, it is important to understand that currently the Iranians are very cautious about signing any big contracts with foreign firms. There are big different attitudes between the private and the public sectors: whereas trade with the private sector can be fast, mobile and present oriented, the state has put on the brakes and is more long term and future oriented in the type of business it will consider.
Priorities for acceptance of projects are a willingness on the part of the Western company to invest now, with little financial help from Iran, and reap the rewards later; to create employment for Iranians; and to produce products in Iran, which can also be exported to other countries in the region. (Lewis 2004 pages: 329-330) B. Concluding Remarks Yasin et al (2002) insist that Iranian business sector has rich traditions, which characterize a strong entrepreneur spirit. However, the business sector in Iran found itself in an unfamiliar territory due to the economic restrictions imposed by the Islamic revolution.
Today, the Persian business sector is a giant ready to be awakened and worthy of global partnership. Patience will pay back those of western investors, who are interested in the new Iranian policy of cautious openness to international market. It is important to invest time and the resources to understand the realities. Recommendations: Be prepared for differences in approach from managers who have been educated in the West and managers whose education has been in Iran. It may be easier to strike a cord with the former. Remember that meetings can be broken by long prayer-sessions, and that Ramadan is not a period of deals.
Turkey is both in Europe and in Asia Lewis (2004) writes that Turkey's territory lies both in Europe and in Asia, and its value systems have always been an amalgam of East and West. Therefore, exploring cultural values of Asia and the Middle-East without talking about turkey would be like doing an incomplete study. Indeed, in Turkey, for example, the male leader is the decision maker, but he always considers the family or group upon which the decision is binding. In Turkey, private life is overwhelmed by family, friends, and organizations, and these determine one's opinion.
We have seen that such practice is common in all Asian and Middle-eastern countries. In Turkey, identity is based on the social system, and education is the primary vehicle for moving up the social ladder. Status of men and women is a modern one in Turkey: Islamic religion is not a state religion anymore. However, there is still a definite social hierarchy, with some bias against classes, ethnic groups (Kurds, especially) and religions. The privileged elite control the country, with conspicuous consumption and education being the status symbols.
Men and women are becoming equal slowly as a law has abolished major differences and separation clauses. The republic of Turkey is a multiparty one. Turkish is the official language. The country has no official religion; 90% of the population is Sunni Muslim and the remaining 10% is shared by other Muslim Sects, plus some Christians and Jews. Turkey is a modern country. Business Practices: According to Morrison, Conaway and Borden (1994), historically Turks are generally closed to outside information. This has been ameliorated by the fact that turkey is a bridge between East and West.
Turks are trained to process information associatively and subjectively. Among Turks, the truth seldom comes from a combination of objective facts. Turkish business people, who deal internationally, are able to communicate in either of foreign main languages: French, English or German. Usually, English is commonly understood mostly in cities. There is always a seemingly interminable small talk before any business is open. That small talk allows your counterpart to know you.
Business and banking hours are 09h00 A. M. to 12h00 (noon) to from 2h00 P. M to 05h00 P. M. The following Muslim holidays will fall on different days, each year:Ramazan or Ramadam, the holy month; Sheker Bayram, three days after Ramadan; and Kurban Bayram, the feast of the sacrifice. A. What Foreigners should know The pace of business negotiation or concluding is much slower than in the US. Never loose your temper or shout at an elder or at a boss. Elders are always deferred to. During conversations, avoid taking sides in any Turkish political question or position. Tobacco is everywhere in Turkey. No-smoking zones don't exist in Turkey.
If you are allergic to tobacco smoke, then definitely you will have hard time in Turkey. Service in restaurants is very quick, tea, rather than coffee, is the national hot drink. Shake hands firmly when introduced to a Turkish man or when greeting. Since the majority of Turkish is Muslim, expect that most of your contacts will be only male. You will feel you are in Middle East. 4. Important Observations and Conclusions: Many scholars and specialists in international management and multicultural issues agree on the importance of being cautious when you plan or start a business across borders.
Elashmawi 2001 and Francesco& Gold (2005) find that when expanding regions in new cross-cultural markets, managers should be patient and flexible. They must avoid any fast actions that may lead to clashes between the local cultural values and the foreign beliefs and practices. For example, Americans are accused of not other nations' way of doing business and as Elashmawi (2001) give several examples, conflicts and clashes that affected business deals. Before concluding, let us conclude this assignment by highlighting some important observations and findings: A. A Cross-Cultural Comparison between Japan and the Arab World
Using some evidence from universities, Dedoussis 2004 argues that there are many cultural similarities between Japanese and Arab Countries. Hofstede's research (1991) on cultural differences and their impact on management suggests that Arab countries and Japan share a high collectivist orientation and this can be one of the many sources of clashes between the individualism of Western business people and the collectivism of both Japanese Arab counterparts. Cultural similarities between Arab countries and Japan are also found with respect to context as both are known to be high-context cultures (Munter 1993: 72).
Similarities between Japanese and Arab cultures are also evident in verbal interaction and non verbal communication. They both avoid getting directly to the topic and start always with a small talk, not getting to business right away and with respect to non-verbal communication, Japanese and Arabs have high-contact cultures. There are also huge differences between the two cultures; but, we are interested in similarities as they may be useful to know for any Western managers going east. B. China as a Very Interesting Case
Redferm and Crawford (2004) have investigated the influence of modernization on the moral judgments of managers in China (mainland) and conclude that in China the process of economic modernization is still in its infancy and that the social ramifications of a country struggling with the competing ideologies of socialism and anew capitalist-style market system create a controversy and yet are to be fully discovered. They suggest that the adoption of elements of the market system in some regions of China has had some influence on the ethical perceptions of Chinese managers in Chinese Organizations.
C. Training Employees to work in the Mid East Safely Avitabile & Kleiner (2002) sustain that living in Middle-East present a variety of challenges and that safety and security are issues that need mostly to be addressed. The best advice for any new expatriate is to prepare while still at home using books, tapes, and by having inter personal contact with repatriated or otherwise cultured personnel or individuals. This advice is good also for any new region of the world as no one is expected to learn and memorize all the complex cross-cultural aspects.
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