Andrea von Wunster Fordham University Dean Einersen 5/10/11 ESSAY # 1 As a manager, one must consider the cultural component of each negotiation process. Negotiations that take place internationally incur an even more dramatic set of cultural factors that contribute toward each party’s perception of the negotiation. “International business deals not only cross borders, but they also cross cultures. Culture profoundly influences how people think, communicate, and behave. It also affects the kinds of transactions they make and the way they negotiate them. Managers must also develop an understanding of how people from different cultures negotiate so that each person involved in discussions perceives issues in the way they were intended. People who are negotiating should also seek to understand the culture of the parties involved in negotiations so that they can build trust through cultural sensitivities. Many basic differences exist between local negotiations and negotiations with an international component. The most significant of these is the cultural differences between countries. For example, if negotiations take place between two U.
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S. citizens, one could assume that when one person is nodding his head, he is simply acknowledging that he hears the person and understands what they are saying. By contrast, when an American enters into negotiations with a Japanese business, a head nod is interpreted as a sign of agreement to those terms. In the same way, when a businessperson engages in negotiations with a person from the Middle East, bribery may be the cultural norm. In these situations, negotiators must make an ethical decision understanding that they likely will not earn a contract without engaging in this behavior.
If you were a manager, how would a negotiation that has an international component affect your negotiation perspective. As a manager, one must recognize the importance of researching the culture with which negotiations will take place. Managers must also recognize the negotiation style other parties will be most comfortable using during the process. “According to many observers, Americans tend to favor the building-down approach, while the Japanese tend to prefer the building-up style of negotiating a contract. ” The building up approach begins with one party proposing a minimum deal that is “built up” as additional conditions are proposed.
The style Americans are more familiar with is the building down approach, where the maximum requests are made and sacrifices must be made and compromises established to find middle ground. A common phrase among businesspeople is “When in Rome, do as the Romans do. ” This, simply put, means that when a person is immersed in a foreign culture, he should behave as the people who live in that culture. In negotiations, this means that when a person is negotiating with people from another culture, he should negotiate in the style that is most comfortable and effective for them.
When an American businessperson travels to China for a business negotiation, he should be sensitive to the customs and traditions of the Chinese culture. In order to accomplish this, research of the culture in which a person is doing business is essential. Therefore, managers must consider the cultural components of each negotiation. Because international negotiations have a much different process than local negotiations, research of the opposing party’s culture is vital to a successful transaction. Culture has an incredible influence on the way people communicate, negotiate, and develop ethics.
Because of this, managers must determine their minimum requirements for bargaining and make moral decisions regarding issues like bribery and labor laws. Understanding how other cultures communicate is equally important. Managers must understand that “the confrontation of these styles of communication in the same negotiation can lead to friction. ” Managers must also develop an understanding of cultural differences in order to build trust through cultural acceptance. One of the six factors, then, is different levels of language.
Translation problems are often substantial in international negotiations. And, when languages are linguistically distant, greater problems should be anticipated. Particularly daunting can be work in global negotiation. Often the language used is English, but it may be spoken as a second language by most executives at the table. Indeed, native speakers from England, India, and the United States often have trouble understanding one another. Exact translations in international interactions are a goal almost never attained. Moreover, language differences are sometimes exploited in interesting ways.
Many senior executives in foreign countries speak and understand some English, but prefer to speak in their “stronger” native language and use an interpreter. Thus, we’ve see a senior Russian negotiator asking questions in Russian. The interpreter then translated the question for his American counterpart. While the interpreter spoke, the American’s attention (gaze direction) was given to the interpreter. However, the Russian’s gaze direction was at the American. Therefore, the Russian could carefully and unobtrusively observe the American’s facial expressions and nonverbal responses.
Additionally, when the American spoke, the senior Russian had twice the response time. Because he understood English, he could formulate his responses during the translation process. Another one of the six factors, is the nonverbal behavior. It was proven that 65% of communication happens through non-verbal behavior. As you can imagine, different cultures use same kind of signs for different purposes, and a lot of times the communication between two parties can mistakenly get mixed up because a certain sign means one thing in one culture and it means a totally different one in the other culture.