Nothing but negotiation

The Gap Partnership

Cultural research 'vital' for international business negotiations

Negotiators should be aware of other culture's customs

30 July 2010

Firms should thoroughly research cultural differences when holding international business negotiations, it has been claimed.

Global companies are often required to hold talks with foreign investors and inexperienced negotiators may come unstuck without considering the customs of other countries.

Allen Kenneth, a US businessman writing for, claimed staff must appreciate and respect other countries' cultures to avoid professional mistakes.

He said: "The purpose we research cultural differences and its conflicts between the east-west is to know ourselves clearly and understand others properly . . . make best use of the advantages and bypass the disadvantages."

Mr Kenneth underlines the differences between Western and Eastern cultures by citing the contrasting approaches to hospitality.

A Chinese delegation visiting Europe may consider it impolite to be unaccompanied throughout their stay, as is convention in China.

Conversely, Europeans making the trip to China may feel uncomfortable being monitored and may misinterpret it as a lack of trust.

Those who are aware of such traditions before opening talks could find the negotiation process is completed without incident. 

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