Negotiations in Saudi Arabia

Your career will involve your negotiating in cultures different from your own. You will prepare for these negotiations like you prepare for other negotiations but you will have to learn about cultural factors that may affect the negotiations.
Assignment: (2-3 pages) Interview a person from a culture other than your own as if you are preparing for a challenging negotiation in that culture. You have asked this person to coach you about negotiating in that culture Please focus on negotiation in the workplace, not the market or bazaar.

You can write your response in a question answer format if you wish.

Before the interview, please do background research on that country/culture so you are reasonably informed…e.g. type of government, dominant religion.
Some possible issues: (there are a lot of issues listed below; you are only expected to cover those you find most interesting)
• How formal are organizations negotiations.   
• Do I dress formally all the time? Do employees socialize after work? Am I expected to drink a lot? What do I do to show I belong?
• Is there a formal and informal “you” ( e.g. German “Sie” vs. “du” ,) 您 & 你in Chinese, “vous” & “tu” in French.. “Usted” or respectful “Senor/-a”
• What language is typically used?
• How hierarchical are organizations; is status very important?
• How do people feel about open conflict; how are conflicts resolved?
• Attitudes about time; is it important to engage in a lot of small talk?
• How important are relationships
• How flexible are people likely to be
• In many cultures, people won’t say “no,” even if they disagree. What about in this culture? What does “no” mean; will people speak directly if they disagree with you?
• What happens in the first meeting? Do people get down to business immediately. What do I need to know about “small” talk? Are sports important to know about?
• Gender, race, nationality, and age issues; are women treated differently in negotiations
• Is there bribery in negotiations
• Etiquette…handshakes…kissing…where do I sit? I bring a present? If the business is family owned how does that affect negotiation? Do I ask to speak with the patriarch? How about shaking hands with women?
• If negotiations break down, what is the likely reason?
• What are the biggest errors foreigners make?
• Do negotiations tend to be “win-lose” or “win-win”; do negotiators aim to satisfy both sides or “win”?
• Are there some critical “do’s” and “don’t’s” I should be aware of not covered above.

General question: What will be my biggest challenges negotiating in your culture? Would I want to negotiate there?

Some ways that countries (or regions in countries) vary:

Decision making: one person v. consensus
Emphasis on relationships v. tasks
Use of general principles v. specific details
Number of people present
Influence, status, and role of the people
Short-term v. long-term perspective
Reasonableness of initial offers
Nonverbal tactics
Direct and indirect communication
Individual vs. collective
Contracts vs. relationships
Direct communication vs. Indirect communication
Time pressure vs. unlimited time: “time is money” vs. “time is plentiful”; use of time limits
“get down to business” vs. banquets and sight seeing
Long detailed contracts vs. short general contracts; specific points v. basic principles; oral v. written
Profits focus vs. market share, future focus
Limited government involvement in deal making vs. significant government involvement
Persuasive arguments; rational…ideological,…. Emotional
Basis of Trust: past dealings v. intuition
Risk taking: low v high
What role might religion play in negotiations; how socialistic is the country

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Cross cultural interview (Saudi Arabia)
Me: As an America, this is the first time that I would undertake any negotiation dealing with a team in Saudi Arabia. I want to get the best deal for my company and at the same time, I also want them to feel comfortable in working with me. Please advise me on the basic things I should keep in mind when negotiating in Saudi Arabia. How different is their culture from America?
Friend from Saudi Arabia (FSA): It is important to acknowledge the fact that the culture of Saudi Arabia is very different from America. American culture is individualist in nature, but Saudi Arabian culture is highly collectivist in nature. If you want to make them feel comfortable, you need to connect with them personally also rather than dealing in a highly professional manner. You should try to create some type of personal relation with them first so that they feel safe in doing business with you....

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