How To Identify Cultural Differences Cultural Studies Essay

Negotiation is taking place everywhere around the world. It is “the process of discussion by which two or more parties aim to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.”  
Negotiation can also be defined as a process of communicating back and forth for the purpose of reaching a joint decision.
The process of negotiation, difficult enough when it takes place among people of similar backgrounds, is even more complex in international negotiations because of cultural differences, lifestyles, expectations, verbal and non-verbal language, approaches to formal procedures, and problem solving techniques.  
According to Deresky the negotiation process contains five steps;  
These stages tend to overlap, and managers have to deduct the model according to the cultural norms. Culture can be defines as the cumulative result of experience, values, religion, beliefs, attitudes, meanings, knowledge, social organizations, procedures, timing, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe and material objects and possessions acquired or created by groups of people, in the course of generations, through individual and group effort and interactions.
This paper will focus on the preparation step in the negotiation process and how cultural matter will influence it, but first we will have a short introduction of the five steps to get a broad understanding of the process.
Stage one: Preparation
Most negotiation problems are caused by differences in culture, language and environment. Preparation for a negotiation can be wasted if these factors are not carefully considered. “In preparing for negotiations, it is critical to avoid projective cognitive similarity – that is, the assumption that others perceive, judge, think, and reason in the same way when, in fact, they do not because of differential cultural and practical influences.  
Stage two: Relationship building
This is the process of getting to know ones contacts in a host country and building mutual trust before embarking on business discussions and transactions. In most parts of the world, this stage has already taken place or is concurrent with other preparations.
Stage three: Exchange of task-related information
This is where the parts present their side and states their position. Often there is a question-and-answer session and alternatives are discussed.
Stage four: Persuasion
This is where the process of bargaining starts. Typically, both parties try to persuade the other to accept more of their position and to give up some of their own. Examples of tactics that have been used are promises, threats and so on.  
Stage five: Concessions and agreement
This is the final point in the negotiation process. This is where the deal is closed.
Introduction to preparation:
Preparation is a core element of any negotiation. Even if we negotiate with the same customer or partner for years, keep in mind that there is a reason for doing this; there are interests and needs that must be served.  
Before the managers start to prepare the cultural differences, language and environment issues they have to understand their own styles. Prior to the meeting they should also find out as much as possible about:
The kinds of demands that might be made
The composition of the «opposing» team
The relative authority that the members possess  
The framework for preparation given by of Moore and Woodrow says that there are four main steps when it comes to cultural differences.
Understand and note the differences between cultures
Develop an understanding of how cultural differences influence problem solving and negotiation
Educate yourself about a new culture
Develop a negotiation plan
Understand and note the differences between cultures is an important point because one of the most common mistakes when people jumps into work across cultures are that they assume that all of us are basically the same. Another mistake is to romanticize culture. This can resolve in extreme efforts to be culturally correct. Both these main mistakes hold some truth, but the real truth probably lies somewhere in between. Therefore it is important to accept the cultural differences and learn how to identify them so we can build bridges between them.  

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Develop an understanding of how cultural differences influence problem solving and negotiation needs to be done because when we are going in to a negotiation it can be useful to make an understanding of both our own culture and the other culture. To identify these factors we can use “The wheel of cultural map”. The wheel is divided into the hub, the inner and outer rim and the spokes. The Wheel of Culture Map identifies cultural factors that shape the ways members of societies bargain for their interest in respond to disputes.  
When you have worked yourself through the first two points it’s time to educate yourself about a new culture. Reading articles and books and watching movies and documentaries is examples of how you can do this. To observe culture is another good way to educate about the new culture.
The last point is to develop a negotiation plan. You use the information you have after the three first steps and find out how you best can deduct to the differences between you and the other part or parts in the negotiation.  
Cultural types help us to understand cultural differences.
Nowadays it is not only important to be aware that in any international transaction there will be cultural differences. It is necessary to be able to acknowledge the culture of the counterparty, as well as, to fully understanding the effect of cultural differences of both parties in a negotiation process. In order to accomplish it, it is necessary to learn their social, religious,, language, and cultural ways at work. I would expect that each of these aspects of culture are later discussed as related to negotiation
Taking in account cultures in which religion is a very important part of their culture is significant in the negotiation process, for example religious days like Easter, Christmas, Sabbath, and Ramadan.
Social systems should be carefully look at, for example the role in woman in Japan in not an active one, and in Norway woman are considered as an equal as man.
As for language is necessary not only to understand it, but also how the language is used according to the context. For example we can have an interpreter but if he/she is not aware how the culture of the other part, there is could be misinterpretation of the words. This also can happen even if both parties speak the same language; the use of language is influenced by culture.
Culture at the work place you can read more about in the section about “the hub”.
As stated before in the negotiation process during the preparation process we develop the awareness of cultural differences that can influence the overall process.
We have to consider what values and culture means in order to understand cultural differences
According to Kluckhohn (1951/1967) values is a “conception, explicit or implicit, distinctive of an individual or characteristic of a group, of the desirable which influences the selection from available modes, means and ends of action”  .
We define culture as:
“Transmitted and created content and patterns of values, ideas and other symbolic meaningful system as factors in the shaping of human behavior, and the artifacts produces through behavior.” (Kroeber and Parsons 1958)  
Therefore we conclude that might share the same values but the patterns that shape our behavior are different. For example the value of desire to satisfy basic needs as food, shelter and health for survival is universal. But culture will advise how we act how according to a specific value. For example loyalty to a husband; to face and resolve adultery is different among cultures, in some cultures you sign a divorce to finish the relationship and in other adultery woman are killed with stones. The approach for evaluating and deciding to act is different because the action will be influenced by our cultural values. According to our cultural values we will act and react during the negotiation procees. It is important to identified our cultural differences in order to identified the strengths in favor of our negotiation and the weakness that can cause us problems.
Identifying cultural differences
There are several cultural differences that we will face in an international negotiation and we conclude that the most importante are:
Communication: Verbal and non verbal communication
Differences in verbal communication can be caused by different language  that the other party speaks., or also can it be that we share the same language but the use of words has a different meaning because it is influenced by the other party culture. However it is important to learn that also non-verbal communication has an important role because it is part of behavior that communicated without words.
As we had already defined that culture shapes behavior, therefore it is useful to identify the mains such differences in order to decide which one can cause a threat or a weakness in our negotiation process and which can help us as opportunities and strengths. One of the approaches that we identified to be very helpful for the preparation is Richard Lewis Model  of cultural types. This model has been based on the Hofstede’s Value Dimensions  
Power distance:
“Is the levels of acceptance by a society of the unequal distribution of power in institutions”. (Deresky p. 112)  
Therefore where we find a high power distance among individuals means that they have the need for hierarchy and status within their culture. For Example USA vs. Norway
Individualism – Collectivism:
“It refers to the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups  “. The first one refers “to the tendency of people to look after themselves and their immediate families only and to neglect the need of society” (Deresky p. 113) and the second one if the opposite.
So in the individualistic cultures loyalty among individuals is not as strong as in collectivism cultures. For example Japanese are collectivist and Americans are individualistic.
Refers to the distribution of roles between the genders which is another fundamental issue for any society to which a range of solutions are found  
Masculinity is in cultures where the gender roles are clearly defined: Men have to be assertive and concentrate on material success. Women should be humble and affectionate and have to maintain a good quality of life. In femininity represents a society, there is no difference: Men and women are equal and both are responsible for maintaining life quality. An example of masculine culture is Mexican and a feminine culture is Norwegian.
Uncertainty Avoidance
“Refers to the extent to which people in society feel threatened by ambiguous situation  . (Deresky p. 112).
The degree of uncertainty that individuals allows in the daily lives. For example high level of uncertainty avoidance are Japanese (laws are very strict with formal rules) and with low level of uncertainty like Great Britain; protest are tolerated, manager take more risks)
Long Term Orientation.
The extent to which culture programs its members to accept delay gratification of their material, social, and emotional needs  . (Deresky p. 114)
Short term cultures tend to consider values that are relevant for past and present (traditions and fulfilling social duties). The long term tend to focus on future success and perseverance.
Examples for Long Term Oriented are the Chinese and Short Term are the Americans.
Cultural Types: The Lewis Model
According to Richard Lewis it is possible to divide cultures in 3 categories (See figure 1).
Linear active: Task-orientated and specialized planners
Multi active: People orientated and polychromic relationship people,
Reactive: Introverted and respect-orientated listeners
Figure 1
Some of the characteristics of each culture are:  
Accepts favours reluctantly
Seeks for favours
Protects face of other
Confronts with logic
Confronts emotionally
Never confronts
Dislikes losing face
Has good excuses
Must not lose face
Does one thing at a time
Does several things at once
Reacts to partner’s action
Very people-oriented
Partly conceals feelings
Display feelings
Conceals feelings
Plans ahead step by step
Plans grand outline only
looks at general principals
Polite but direct
Polite and indirect
Rarely interrupts
Often interrupts
Doesn’t interrupt
Sticks to plan
Change plans
Makes slights changes
Talks have the time
Talks most of the time
Listens most of the time
Truth before diplomacy
Flexible truth
Diplomacy over truth
Uses mainly facts
Feeling before facts
Statements are promises
Works fixed hours
Works many hours
Flexible hours
This table helps us to identify how each culture reacts and will help us to design the negotiation, and to be able to be more flexible if we have to bargain in case of necessary for our interest in the negotiation or resolve a conflict.
According to Richard Lewis the world’s cultures had been classified in 3 categories:
“Linear Actives: those who plans, schedule, organize, pursue action chains, do one thing at a time.”  
“Muti-actives: those lively, loquacious people who do many things at once, planning their priorities not according to a time schedule , but according to the thrill or importance that each appointment brings with it.”
Reactives:those cultures that prioritise courtesy and respect, lisening quietly and calmly to their interlocutors and reacting carefully to the other side’s proposal
To succeed in a cross-cultural negotiation it is necessary to:
Analyze our own culture and our partner’s culture.
Know your personal negotiation profile and how it fits in the model
Adapt the communication and negotiation style according to the cultures expectations
Understand how trust is seen in different countries.
In the preparation time use this elements to create your strategy
The Wheel of Culture Map
The Wheel of Culture identifies critical cultural variables that shape the way that members of society conduct problem solving and negotiate to achieve interests and resolve disputes.  
Over we have the figure of the wheel of culture by C. Moore (2004)  . One can divide the Wheel into four parts; the hub, the inner rim, the outer rim and the spokes.
The Hub
Here we have individuals and groups which interact in negotiations. In different cultures people can be oriented toward individuals or groups. As mentioned earlier in the paper, we have Hofstede’s value dimensions, in this part we are going to focus on one of them; individualism versus collectivism.
Individualism is by Hofstede (2005) defined as: the opposite of collectivism; together, they form one of the dimensions of national cultures. Individualism stands for a society in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after himself or herself and his or her immediate family only  .
Collectivism is defined as: the opposite of individualism; together, they form one of the dimensions of national cultures. Collectivism stands for a society in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, which throughout people’s lifetime continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty  .
According to C. Moore (2004), “before entering negotiation it is helpful to know whether a culture is oriented towards individualism or collectivism – in comparison to your personal or organizational culture”  .
The following had been identified as differences between Collectivism and Individualism orientation  :
Participation of disputants in the mediation process
Contrasting views of the nature of conflict.
For individualists conflict is as a natural part of human interaction and for collectivist is the opposite.
Effect of perception of conflict on participation in mediation.
Individualists acknowledge conflict and participate without experiencing shame.
For collectivists acknowledgement of conflict cause a loss of face
Preferences and expectations about mediators.
Types of mediators preferred.
Individualists tend to prefer professional mediators specialized in negotiation.
Collectivists prefere thta the mediator is an insider, who knows both parties or at least the context of their dispute.
Expectations of mediators
For individualits mediators should facilitate communication, negotiation and decision making
For collectivists prefer mediators who are familiar with the context of the parties’ dispute and who can suggest resolutions that will restore harmony both to the disputants and their relevant ingroups
Participants in mediations
Individualists the parties to a dispute as those who are directly involved in it.
For collectivists may view members of their ingroup who are not directly involved as parties to a dispute.
Formality and informality in mediation.
Individualist negotiantion usually takes place indoors/formal office setting, mediators tend to address informally with the disputants, (first name bases)
For collectivist, outdoor and informal indoor settings are common, but will not address the other parties in an informal way.
Face-to-face dealings vs. shuttle diplomacy.
Individualistic begin with the mediator and the disputants in the same room. The disputants have the opportunity to explain the basis of the dispute to each other from their personal perspectives. Direct communication is considered appropriate, as it provides the opportunity to be heard and aids the mediator in the tasks of interest identification and issue clarification.
Collectivists, have avoidance strategies, prefere to have private meetings between the mediator and one party. The mediator is like shuttle diplomat carrying information and settlement ideas from one party to the other. Once the general outline of an agreement is reached, the disputants may agree to meet in order to negotiate the finer details.
When one is preparing for negotiation it is important to know about the differences between cultures. In individualistic cultures there is an “I” mentality, people think about themselves, make decisions based on individual needs, are self-oriented and think that everyone has a right to private life. In collectivistic cultures people are group oriented, have a “we” mentality, decisions are based on individual needs and expect absolute loyalty to the group. The group is not only the family, but also extended family, like aunts and uncles, caste and organization.
United States is on the top of the individualism index, which scored 91, Mexico 30, China 20 and Pakistan 14.  As you can see from the numbers Mexico, China and Pakistan are collectivist cultures. United States is an individualist culture.
Collectivism and individualism in the workplace
In a collectivist culture an employer never hires just an individual, but rather a person who belongs to an in-group  . The employee will act according to the interest of this in-group, which may not always overlap with his or her individual interest. Earnings often have to be shared with relatives.
In an individualist culture employed persons are expected to act according to their own interest, and work should be organized in such a way that this self-interest and the employer’s interest match. Workers are supposed to act as people with a mixture of economic and psychological needs, as individuals with their own requirements.
In collectivist workplaces management is management of groups, relationship prevails over task, in-group customers get better treatment and harmony, and loyalty inside a company is important and confrontation should be avoided. In China and Japan it is not a good idea to disagree with someone’s opinion in public. In individualist workplaces every customer should get the same treatment, management is management of individuals, hiring and promotion decisions should be based on skills and rules only.
Cross-cultural negotiations
Collectivism will affect the need for stable relationship between negotiators. In a collectivist culture replacement of a person means that a new relationship has to be built, this takes time. Mediators have an important role in maintaining a viable pattern of relationship that allows progress  . In a book by Varner and Beamer  there were some Canadians representing a company who were negotiating a sale with a Chinese company. In their previous meetings there had been other persons from the Canadian company which had met the Chinese. When they were suppose to have the last meeting, the Chinese wanted to get to know the Canadians, because relationship is important in the Chinese culture. This was a surprise for the Canadians, and they were irritated. It ended up with a situation where the Canadians didn’t get the sale, because they didn’t understand the Chinese culture. This is a good example that it is important to prepare.
“Differences in values associated with the individualism and collectivism dimensions will continue to exist and to play a big role in international affairs. Individualism versus collectivism as a dimension of national cultures is responsible for many misunderstandings in intercultural collisions” (Hofstede).  
The Inner Rim
In the Inner Rim either groups or individuals who participate in negotiation process expose:
â-º needs or interests they wish to have met in the outcome of problem solving;
â-º situations, issues or problems that must be addressed;
â-º sources of power and influence”.  
As advice before, it is important to identify the other party and our orientation, if it is individualist or collectivist, how the other party consider power distance and uncertainty avoidance. Is the negotiation the beginning of a longer term relationship or not.
Physiological Needs
These are biological needs. They consist of needs for oxygen, food, water, and a relatively constant body temperature. They are the strongest needs because if a person were deprived of all needs, the physiological ones would come first in the person’s search for satisfaction.
Safety Needs
For understanding others we also must understand ourselves. In fact, each culture has its own way of seeing and doing things, based on laws, regulations, and issues. “An important element of preparation for any negotiation is to develop a clear understanding of how the other party defines the situation and the issues to be discussed”  . Should consider Hofstede dimensions and Richard Lewis cultural type to identify cultural differences and how can influence the negotiation process and its outcome, so we can develop strategies that can help us to meet our goal.
It is very essential in negotiation to understand clearly what counterparts are in order to avoid problems when people with various cultures attach different meanings to similar situations. For example “With regard to the transitioning economy in Russia, a study by Elenkov found that Russian managers stress security and belongingness needs as opposed to higher-order needs, such as self- actualization ”  It means that operating in countries such Russia managers should be taken into account this factors. It is also very significant to find economic differences between countries (high developed countries or less developed).
“Eastern cultures focus on the needs of society rather than on the needs of individuals We have mentioned before that for instance Japan is much more collectivistic than US. As we understood in all cultures are the same basic needs, but they have different considerations about what is an adequate satisfaction of these needs. So it is extremely important in preparation stage also to determine a tentative understanding about interests and needs of other members of negotiation. There are many differences between high- context cultures and low-context cultures.”Much of the difference in communication styles is attributable to whether you belong to a high-context cultures or low-context culture.”  These differences can lead negotiators to conflict situations. According to Helen Deresky there are two types of conflict – instrumental – oriented conflict and expressive – oriented conflict. Where in the neogitaiton circle would this be relevant? “In low-context cultures such as that in the United States, conflict is handled directly and explicitly. It is also regarded as separate from the person negotiating – that is, the negotiators draw a distinction between the people involved and the information or opinions they represent. They also tend to negotiate on the basis of factual information and logical analysis. In high-context cultures, such as in the Middle East, the situation is handled indirectly and implicitly, without clear delineation of the situation by the person handling it. Such negotiators do not want to get in a confrontational situation because it is regarded as insulting and would cause a loss of face, so they tend to use evasion and avoidance if they cannot reach agreement through emotional appeals”.  Managers’ task is to understand cultural contexts for managing conflict situations. They should decide what kind of tactics and styles they should use in the process.
In the Inner Rim there is also an essential concept of power and influence. “Power and influence have been defined as the ability to act, to influence an outcome, to get something to happen (not to happen), or to overcome resistance”  
When a party has more power it is necessary to know what types of power exists. There are five types of power: coercive, reward, legitimate, expert, and referent power.  

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