Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

The Impact of the Socio-Cultural Context on Communication within International Negotiations

Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

The Impact of the Socio-Cultural Context on Communication within International Negotiations

Article excerpt

Negotiation is a specialized communication which requires talent, learning, experience. "The negotiation is the form of communication that involves a communicative, dynamic, adjusting process, by means of which an agreement is established in conflicts of interests cases involving two or more parties animated by different reasons and with their own goals, parties that mediate their stands to reach a mutually satisfactory settlement."1 Thus, of all forms of communication, the negotiation is the only one that recognizes apriori the pursuit of an interest. To be anything other than selfish, the actions covered by negotiation must admit from the beginning that it is more than normal for partners to aim the same thing, but from their point of view.

In comparison with negotiations taking place in other fields, international commercial negotiation has a series of specific characteristics regarding content and drill, as well as tactics and strategies. The cultural universe is quite diversified and the cultural differences condition the fundamental values held by business people; thus, each person brings to the negotiations table things they are not probably aware about, although these things have a deeply rooted influence on them. International negotiations cross not only visible but also invisible borderscultural ones; the culture profoundly influences the way people think, communicate and act, the type of decisions they make and how they reach them. Cultural differences between the negotiation partners can thus create barriers that make the negotiation process more difficult or even block it.

The global context of the negotiation includes both social, cultural, political conditions and also spatial, climaterica!, temporal conditions, not to be neglected in the negotiating process. All these conditions and each of them in part influence in a smaller or greater extent the act of communication. Referring to the international negotiation process, we notice an increase in the degree to which communication is determined by the global context involving issues related to differences between different cultural systems.

Many studies of social psychology have demonstrated a strong influence of socio-cultural factors on perception, thinking and emotional behavior of individuals. For an efficient communication in the negotiation process, the individuals' reactions, which are in accordance with the cultures from which they come from, must be known and interpreted properly. The most obvious example in this respect is the perception of time, which varies from one culture to another and therefore from one society to another. Thus, for example, North Americans, who operate according to a very precise program, appreciate the promptness and hate time wasting, while in South America or in the Orient, where actions take place at a slower pace, people are not so keen on time saving, thing that disturbs the North Americans in the negotiation process. Similarly, a negative social impact can be seen as well in the failure to obey some rules existing in the minds of individuals belonging to certain cultures and that may create a totally unfavorable framework for the development of effective communication in the context of negotiation. Thus, different cultures grant different degrees of importance to aspects regarding the credibility of the partner. For instance, credibility due to good faith is important for cultures who value relationships, but cultures which value obvious facts will give credibility to the expert. In other cultures the title and rank, the hierarchical position, age or gender are important in establishing the credibility of the negotiating partner. For example, the Japanese do not like to negotiate with young people. They consider one must have worked for 15-20 years for a company to be assigned with the responsibility of a negotiation. They find it hard to believe that a young employee can have decision power and consider that dealing with him would be a waste of time and even an insult to their dignity. …

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