Trompenaars' Cultural Dimensions Model in Negotiation

Trompenaars' Cultural Dimensions Model in Negotiation
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  • 0:00 Cultural Differences
  • 0:38 7 Dimensions of…
  • 6:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Nick Chandler
People from different countries behave in different ways. This lesson looks at the theory behind these differences and gives some tips on how to conduct negotiations with people from different countries .

Cultural Differences

When you travel to a foreign country, you may be faced with different food, different language, and different ways of behaving. These different ways of doing things is called cultural diversity. People need to be aware of cultural diversity, but companies do as well.

Imagine you are about to travel to a foreign company to negotiate an important supply contract. The different ways of behaving could lead to misunderstandings and even the breakdown of the whole negotiation. Let's have a look at the theory behind cultural diversity.

7 Dimensions of Cultural Difference

Fons Trompenaars, a Dutch-French organizational theorist, researched the differences between national cultures and developed a model of national cultural differences so that people can understand their main differences. This model has seven dimensions that can affect negotiations:

1. Universalism vs. Particularism

Universalism is the belief that one way of doing things suits everybody. In countries that have high universalism, such as the UK and U.S., there are a lot of formal rules that everyone's expected to follow, and relationships come second. Particularism is for people who believe that the relationships and circumstances are more important than rules, such as China and South Korea.

For negotiations in countries with high universalism, the focus should be on allowing time for decisions with clear instructions and procedures throughout the negotiation. Negotiations in high particularism countries first require taking time to build relationships.

2. Individualism vs. Communitarianism

Individualism is the belief in the freedom to make your own decisions, like in Canada, the U.S., and the UK. Communitarianism values the group more than the individual, as in Africa and Japan.

For negotiations, this means that in the UK, U.S., and Canada, decisions can be made more quickly than in high communitarianism countries where the group decides. It also means that if a U.S. businessman is negotiating in Japan, he may be expected to be part of a team and need to allow others to take part in decision making, even if he is the CEO and is used to making decisions independently.

3. Neutral vs. Emotional

In emotional cultures, people freely express their emotions, even at work. We find this in countries like Italy and Spain. However, in neutral countries, emotions are controlled as much as possible, as in Germany and Sweden.

A Spanish man negotiating in Germany will be expected to keep his emotions in check and stay on task during the negotiations. Conversely, a German negotiating in Spain will need to open up to build rapport and trust, as well as learn to manage conflict before it gets to the stage of being too personal.

4. Specific vs. Diffuse

This dimension is concerned with how much people allow work into their private lives. Specific cultures keep work and private lives separate, like countries in the U.S., UK, and Germany. Diffuse cultures mix work and private life, as in Russia, India, and China.

For U.S. and UK nationals in negotiations, this means that it isn't essential to have a close relationship with colleagues in order to get work done. In Russia and China, it is likely that some or all of the negotiation will be discussed in a social setting, and on the other hand, personal discussions may be held in the workplace.

5. Achievement vs. Ascription

Achievement cultures, like Austria, the U.S., and the U.K, place value on good performance. Ascription cultures give status to who or what a person is, as in Indonesia and China.

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