The Importance of Adaptation for Negotiations in Arabian Countries

Seminar Paper, 2017

17 Pages, Grade: 2,0




1. Introduction

2 Negotiations
2.1 The Negotiation Process
2.2 Challenges for Intercultural negotiations

3. The cultures – a general comparison
3.1 A definition of culture
3.2 The Arabian World and its culture
3.3 The German lifestyle and culture
3.4 The important differences affecting negotiations

4. Comparison according to Hofstede’s cultural Dimensions
4.1 Power Distance
4.2 Masculinity vs. Femininity

5. Classic causes of misunderstandings

6. Conclusion

7. Bibliography

1. Introduction

In his Inauguration speech in 1961 John F. Kennedy once said “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate”1. Back at that time as well as now this statement captures the importance of negotiations for interpersonal relations. In this era of globalization which started already several years ago, it is becoming more and more important to understand the impact of different cultures on business, and of course pri­vate affairs. Through technical and social advances the world becomes more and more connected. Sharing of information becomes faster and easier, behavioral patterns change and the powers in the world are shifting. Because of all these processes it is important like never before to know why other people decide the way they do, and what brought them to that decisions. Only by understanding the opposite a negotiation will conclude in the best result.

This Short Seminar Paper will exemplify the importance of cultures for business life and especially negotiations. As the central theme I picked out German – Arabian nego­tiations, how the diverse cultures influence the development of those negotiations and how misunderstandings can be avoided.

To find the right access to the topic the word “negotiation” and the intercultural chal-lenges are shortly explained at the beginning. For defining those challenges in greater detail the next and main part of this Seminar Paper is the analysis and the comparison of the two cultures: Arabian Culture and German Culture. At first a general comparison will show the main differences in the way of life, the way of thinking and behaving be­tween people belonging to these two cultural areas. Which of these aspects have great effects on negotiation style and eventually on the result of business negotiations is shortly portrayed next. To deepen those first impressions the two cultures are then be contrasted according to 3 of Hofstede’s 5 cultural dimensions. The implication all those variations can have on a negotiation, are demonstrated at the end by showing a few clas­sical misunderstandings in German-Arabian negotiations and giving examples how va­riety can be used as an example.

2 Negotiations

Nowadays negotiations are an essential part at all levels of social and economic life. A negotiation, a mutual communication between two parties is a way to achieve peaceful reconciliation of different interests2. Particularly in business the art of successful nego­tiation is an invaluable benefit to obtain the best terms and conditions. They often mark the beginning of long lasting relationships between two or more business partners. Ne­gotiations can take a long time until a conclusion is found.

A typical negotiation can be divided into three main steps.

2.1 The Negotiation Process

The first part of a negotiation is the arrangement and preparation. All details need to be fixed, containing but not limited to finding a date and a time which suites every partici­pant. Finding a place to meet is also not an easy question. Each participant should be clear of their own expectations so a strategy can be defined. A good preparation can have significant influence on the outcome of the negotiation. Due to those in some ex­tend time-consuming activities the preparation is often the most laborious part.

When everything is arranged and the time has come, the execution is the next step. The defined strategy has to be implemented on the negotiation process. The Harvard- Con­cept understands four principles for a successful negotiation. Humans and Problems should always be distinguished. Focus on your own interests. Develop opportunities with mutual benefits for both sides. Insist on the application of objective criteria. When following these principles the outcome of the negotiation is likely to of your advantage.3

This leads to the last, but not least important step: The follow-up processing. The result has to be fixed, and the aspired benefits have to be realized. Maybe a contract was signed at the end of the negotiation and the following project has to be planed. No mat­ter of the outcome of the negotiation, it is for sure that the next one will follow soon.

2.2 Challenges for Intercultural negotiations

Since the globalization becomes a more and more important topic to all parts of econo­my, there is barely anybody escaping from the resulting changes. The fast growing of international business led to an international market place for all kinds of services and goods. Due to possibilities of cheap production in different countries companies get more and more involved with other cultures and countries. The unequal standards and developing situations in the different regions all over the world make it hard to really keep an overview. 4

Therefore intercultural competencies are demanded as never before. Talent for negotia­tions is not the only aspect that matters. Experience and the ability to communicate, be open minded and knowledge of the mentality, way of thinking and traditions are im­portant characteristics of a good negotiator.

Every country and every different part of each country has a different history, which formed the people living there. Their behavior and their whole culture has great impact on their way of negotiating and it will be difficult to reach a conclusion without some­how put some energy in getting to know more about the host country and of course reli-gion.5

3. The cultures – a general comparison

As already said in the introduction, the following part will be the main part of this semi­nar paper. After the challenges for intercultural negotiations were showed in the chapter before, the two cultures which shall be the biggest object of this work will be analyzed in the following chapter. Of course this seminar paper represents only a small fraction of the cultural characteristics. To outline all specifications would be beyond the scope of this seminar paper.

3.1 A definition of culture

In order to understand different cultures it is important to understand what culture really means. In the DUDEN it is defined as the whole achievements of a community, which manifests as an expression of human development, let it be intellectual, artistic or else what shaping. 6

Culture is the result of human action, and it mutually has influence on human action. Humans with different cultural backgrounds may understand the exact same situation not in the same way.

Throughout his or her life every human being inherits a culture, which contains differ­ent behavioral patterns and ways of thinking. It determines boundaries for each individ­ual, boundaries which mark the end of the personal freedom to do whatever that indi­vidual wants. 7

3.2 The Arabian World and its culture

The Arabian World, also called the Arab world spreads out from the eastern coast of the Atlantic Ocean in the west, to the Arab Golf in the east. It is populated by many differ­ent nations with having each an own identity. 8 It is distinguished between the Gulf States, Al- Sham, the Nile Region and Al-Maghreb. Due to fossil fuels the Arab region is seen as a rather rich region. Due to its central position the Arab World is very im­portant for the global economy. From here the world oceans can easily be managed, as well as central Africa and Middle Asia. The history of the Arabian People reaches back over a billion years. Already at that time the first ancestors of today’s humans settled in the Arabian area. First forms of society were formed and already then a process was started which would once result in today’s culture. Their Culture is strongly anchored in the peoples’ minds in that part of the world. After the Colonial times were mastered without much loss, the Arabian states got closer due to having the same enemy. That culminated in the foundation of the Arab League, with the aim of coordinating the col­laboration between the countries. Ever since then, the desire for Unity and solidarity is deeply in the hearts of the population. 9

The official language of the Arabian countries is Arabian, which is spoken world widely by over 240 Million people.

Most people living in that area belong to the Religion of Islam, although a few minori­ties, especially Jewish minorities exist. The folks identify much more with their religion than most European people. The five pillars of Islam have a great impact on life as a Muslim. These pillars are: The declaration of faith, praying 5 times a day, the compul­sory giving, Ramadan and the Pilgrimage to Mecca. Ramadan, the time of fasting is rather exhausting. Nothing shall be eaten from sunrise until sunset. Important appoint­ments are often held in the evening hours or even at night. Praying five times a day can be very time consuming. But the most important thing is, that religion is often more important than business. A working day can be interrupted for a short or not so short prayer without anyone wondering. The Friday in the Islam is what the Sunday is for Christians. It is normal to go to Mosque in the morning and stay there half a day.10

Not only the five pillars of Islam influence the life of the people. There are many un­written rules existing, for private matters, as well as for business. Family and relation­ships are two of the most important things in the Arabian world. Trusting one another is essential to reach a goal. It is important that the contact is maintained, because one can never know whether a person can be of help in the future. A business man always wants to know what kind of person is his opposite. Therefore the first meeting is often only for getting to know each other. Questions to the place of origin and the family are likely to be asked. Taboo topics are the wife or critical religious and political questions. When the trust is once built up, business becomes much easier and faster.11 When meeting women be careful. Particularly with women from a traditional and religious background men are not supposed to shake hands until requested to. Since many women, equal to German women, work for international companies this situation should not be unex-pected.12

Hospitality, kindness and politeness are major issues in the Arabian World. Those char­acteristics have a big historical background and reach back to the Bedouin times. It would not be an exemption if a business man from Europe was invited to dine with the family of an Arab man. The Dinner often takes place on low tables, while only sitting on pillows. Depending on what is served it is usual to eat with the fingers, and only with the right hand. In case people started eating already and praying time starts, the meal can be finished first. It is impolite to decline an invitation or to complain about the meal.13

3.3 The German lifestyle and culture

The Federal Republic of Germany lies in the center of Europe, geographically as well as in terms of politics and economics. With more than 81 million people Germany is Eu­rope's second most populous country. The German economy is the largest on the conti­nent and the fifth largest in the world. Since 1958 Germany is a Member of the Europe­an Union. Most people living in Germany belong to the Christians. Although Germany exerts its influence on the neighbor countries, all of them had mutual impact on the shaping of German culture.14


1 Kennedy, John F., (20th January 1961), Inaugural address, e.g.:, Accessed on 06/26/2017.

2 Compare., Accessed on 06/26/2017.

3 Compare., Accessed on 06/26/2017.

4 Compare. Koch, E., Globalisierung: Wirtschaft und Politik: Chancen – Risiken – Antworten, 2016, p. 5.

5 Compare., Accessed on 06/26/2017.

6 Compare., Accessed on 06/26/2017.

7 Compare. Germ, J., Was ist Kultur? Definition und Grundlagen des Kulturbegriffes, 2014, p. 4-6.

8 Compare. Naji, F., Einführung in die arabische Sprache und Kultur, 2012, p. 178-181

9 Compare. Kella, K., Geschichte der arabischen Völker – Von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, 2017, p. 236 – 369.

10 Compare. Kashkoul, A., Die 10 Gebote für Projektmanagement im arabischen Raum: Kulturelle Her-ausforderungen und Erfolgsfaktoren im arabischen Raum, 2013, S. 11 – 21.

11 Compare., Accessed on 06/26/2017.

12 Compare. fbde074b93ba16d5240c23fb1a167fe4/Business-Etikette-Arabische-Welt-data.pdf, Accessed on 06/26/2017.

13 Compare., Accessed on 06/26/2017.

14 Compare., Accessed on 06/26/2017.

Excerpt out of 17 pages


The Importance of Adaptation for Negotiations in Arabian Countries
University of applied sciences Dortmund
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Negotiations, Adaptation, Arabian Countries, Culture, Arabia, International, Intercultural, Globalization
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Anonymous, 2017, The Importance of Adaptation for Negotiations in Arabian Countries, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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