International Negotiations 

"Culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy. Culture differences are a nuisance at best and often a disaster."

Dr. Geert Hofsted

Emeritus Professor, Maastricht University 

Cross-Cultural Dimensions in negotiations are complex and critical information gathering to understand the other party. 

Dr. Hofstede developed a model that identifies negotiation practices in international conflict that were specific to the cultural dimensions that both parties can be related to. 

  • Individual/ Collectivism 

  • Power Distance 

  • Masculinity/Femininity 

  • Uncertainty/ Avoidance

  • Long-Term Orientation 

Individualism in negotiation practices are used to single yourself out of a stance or cause. Individual motivation and achievement is emphasized, decisions can be made by anyone, and it is good to focus on your own improvements. From individual motivations of a negotiation, people tend to group together to find unity and a collective ideology. Groups of people can advocate their side, petition for a case, adjust new policies within organizations to accommodate the values of the collective. Collectivist seek to find common ground together first, while individualist seek to become a representative of a cause. Individualist are empowered negotiators that represent who can accept or reject involved parties. 

Power Distance is the extent to which lower-status members of organizations and institutions accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. The Power Distance dimension represents the perceptions of followers and subordinates, it has a bottom-up approach to negotiations. In high-power societies to is custom to show great respect for age, titles, and seniority and management philosophy is paternalistic. Many of the people who operate international businesses are usually concerned with high levels of experience over education. Understanding the degree of experience in a certain field or organization will help you negotiate the deals when their core ideology is based in ageism or ableism. Many people are "grandfathered" into a field or institution that relates to the disputed negotiations. Cultural customs are important in this manner because parties must adjust to different negotiated tactics. In law-power distance societies the members value competence over seniority, are less impressed by titles or status, generally more democratic and have a participative style of management. 

Masculinity/Femininity refers to the distribution of gender-based behavior among society members. Hofstede's IBM studies revealed that: 

  1. There was more commonality among women's (verses men's) values in all societies 

  2. Men's values from one country to another range from very assertive, competitive, and materialistic (termed "masculine") to modest, collaborative, and caring (termed "feminine"). 

The masculinity of gender-based behavior theory believes that men have control of a situation that happens and are very competitive in solving international problems. While women are seen to be more collaborative and will only work in groups of individuals willing to solve the problem collectively. In theory many of these ideas have the bases in that solving international disputes are gained through gender identifies which can be more prevalent in other cultures. Dr. Hofstede identifies certain regions like the Middle East or Asia to be countries that rely on a masculinity ideology to resolve problems. While Western countries are willing to use a femininity approach that is based in community driven problem solving techniques. 

Uncertainty/ Avoidance refers to the society's tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. For instance, when the culture programs important to the country are threaten by unstructured situations the country reacts in a specific way according to their rules and laws. Certainty is viewed through the strictness of laws and policies. If there are international policies that do not directly fit the negotiations deal proposals then the level of certainty is determined to be vitally important throughout the deal making process. Countries can use the tactic of avoidance to prolong and even completely disvalue the international policies in order to keep their cultural status quo or to advance their own administrative agendas. Working through a international countries rules and law means you might know the rule of law or have proper attorney representation. If you are creating a legally binding agreement or will, then it is best to know this process as a foreigner or a duel citizenship negotiator. Even if you speak the countries native language at a high proficiency it is best to have these international dispute tactics in mind while creating your settlement agreement priorities list. 

Long-Term Orientation verses short-term orientation falls on the bases that many people in different cultures will have a short term or long term goals for the outcome of their negotiation. In Western countries, there is a sigma that concerns for short-term goals as a priority and long term goals that will come from the successful completion of multiple short-term goals throughout the settlement agreement. However, in certain countries to the East where their government system is based in a authoritarian rule and has a life term for heads of state, long term goals are seen as a priority over short term goals. Many of the short term goals that are not directly written into their laws and policies are not a severe problem for their governmental system due to the life term than these heads of state will serve. In response to small litigation claims or mediation settlement agreements within companies or corporations, these tactics follow the administrative control of their government system.