Cultural Differences Affecting Negotiations


Negotiation in an organization alludes to procedures carried out by organizations to present a component of progress that is intended to enhance the execution of roles at the best possible circumstance. In this manner, negotiation is basic in adjusting the input with the execution objectives as a cure towards comprehensiveness and dynamic interest, particularly in a culturally diverse work environment.

Negotiation abilities can be connected in a socially different environment to create a system for overseeing strife and striking better working arrangements. Appropriate negotiation aptitudes can make a perfect workplace, which is comprehensive and accommodating to the interests of the parties involved, irrespective of cultural variations. This paper will survey the cultural bottlenecks that affect the negotiation process in a typical culturally diverse work environment. The paper will then present a strategic bridge for addressing the cultural challenges after which it will offer recommendations on the best approaches to be applied when negotiating in a culturally diverse environment.

Existing Literature on Negotiation to Solve Cultural Differences

Several theories have been put forward by different authors on the best strategies for executing a strategic negotiation process to solve cultural differences. For instance, the principled negotiation theory asserts that conflicts, which arise from incompatibility, as a result of cultural differences among the parties involved, should be addressed through creating a negotiation process that aims to facilitate the conflicting parties to separate cultural variances from the conflict itself (Carson, 2009). According to Baack (2009), this approach is likely to encourage the conflicting parties to embrace a more proactive negotiation process on the foundation of interests and not cultural positions.

Another interesting theoretical approach to understanding how prime cultural differences affect negotiation is the human needs theory. According to Fiske and Taylor (2013), this theory notes that “every human being has some basic physical, psychological and social needs like security, identity, recognition, stability, freedom” (p. 25), which are intertwined in the individual cultural orientation. This means that conflicts arising from human needs should be resolved through promoting equity and equality among the warring parties by encouraging them to highlight the unsatisfied needs.

The other theories that explain how prime cultural differences affect negotiation are identity theory, intercultural miscommunication theory, and conflict transformation theory (Flamholtz & Randle, 2011). The identity theory notes that counselling can be applied to resolve conflicts that result from a cultural identity crisis, especially in a multicultural organization (Flatt & Kowalczyk, 2008). On the other hand, the intercultural miscommunication theory highlights cultural differences that affect negotiation as “incompatibilities between different cultural communication styles” (Griffin & Moorhead, 2013, p. 45).

The theory suggests proactive encouragement of intercultural communication to make the negotiation process bearable and fruitful. Lastly, the conflict transformation theory highlights inequality and injustice in balancing cultural differences in the negotiation process as affecting any conciliation outcome. The theory proposes “a change in the framework that causes inequality conflict in organizations at both the individual level and the group level” (Kotter, 2011). The above theoretical approaches have identified communication, identity, degree of formality, and unsatisfied needs as cultural differences that affect the process of negotiation in any organization.

Prime Cultural Differences Affecting Negotiations

Communication (Professional culture)

Proactive competence in communication can be achieved when the parties involved in a negotiation process. The correspondence ability is a negotiation process is achievable when parties involved in a business process acknowledge the significance of social imagery for the articulation of fulfilment, disappointment, inclination, and reliability to minimize misconception, as a result of imbalances in the intercultural miscommunication (Matos, Simoes, & Esposito, 2014).

For instance, the negotiation process between a company in the US and another in Brazil might be compromised by the different communication culture in the two countries. Specifically, the communication environment in Brazil is excessively casual and easygoing as compared to the formal and professional approach in the US. In particular, a negotiation team from the US-based company would naturally think that it’s offending to appear very casual and relaxed, which is a common culture among the Brazilians. For instance, if the negotiation team from the US visits Brazil, they might be surprised by the easy environment, beachfront offices, and casual approach in negotiation adopted by their counterparts. This might lead to the formation of stereotyping opinions that might compromise-free negotiation (Maitlis & Ozcelik, 2010).

The casual correspondence in all angles in the Brazilian business society, including the aspect of communication approach might affect the negotiation process since the US team is only conversant with a formal approach to communication and carrying out business.

Punctuality (Corporate culture)

Most negotiations in a culturally diverse environment have fixed deadlines due to logistical challenges. This means that the corporate culture of two parties or organizations aiming to settle on a deal might not have adequate time to freely interact and form strategic bonds. Despite the strict deadline set by one wing of the negotiation team, the other team might find it unrealistic, considering the frequent lateness in attending meetings, frequent breaks, and constant absenteeism as a result of factors that cannot be avoided. The test of time could be related to the freeway of life in a culturally diverse negotiation environment (Hannan & Freeman, 2011).

Subsequently, the negotiation process would be under consistent pressure and might settled on silly choices just to meet the due date. In most cases, the test of reliability influences the negotiation process since cultural diversity attracts variation in the degree of commitment to the procedure.

Degree of formality (individual culture)

Business environment in the US environment is exceptionally formal. Among the exceptional components of individual culture within a business environment incorporate attesting position and re-stimulating operations through productive and fulfilling utilization of administration and control abilities. Dissimilar to the formal arbitrators of the US-based company, the agent of the Brazil-based company might be casual in their method of connection, transaction, and legitimate understanding of the proposed negotiation process (Hannan & Freeman, 2011). For instance, simple communication in protest over the informal approach by the Brazilian counterparts might be viewed as stereotyping. This means that this social contrast might be responsible for the challenges in negotiation, due to variation in thought and perception patterns.

With the need to establish a proactive organizational culture, the negotiating team might find it difficult to add to a desultory methodology in clarifying and investigating shared and facilitated activities on parts and channels through which hierarchical system influences the entire negotiation process. There is a need to ensure that the negotiation team members are permitted to contribute their perspectives in regards to every administration and operation of the process. This strategy might guarantee that specialists and the administration group in a negotiation process are in a position to comprehend the aggregate point of view of the parties involved (Weick & Quinn, 2010).

Due to cultural differences, it is difficult for the negotiation process to create an ideal environment for steady learning, solid learning procedures, and practical authority that fortify the resulting settlement. In most cases, there is the need to assume a critical part in setting up the negotiation environment to create a perfect atmosphere for development and correspondence among the representatives of interested parties.

Cultural Bridge Building Strategy

Conflicts at work environment must be determined promptly and viably as they can be counter-profitable (Schafer & Crichlow, 2010). Five noteworthy styles of peace promotion have been distinguished by Modaff, DeWine, and Butler (2008), under the titles rivalry, joint effort, shirking, convenience, and trade-off. By rivalry, Thomas implies its use to determine a contention power, dangers, or force. The cooperative approach to negotiation includes shared critical thinking whereby the two clashing parties can talk about the issues. The exchange illuminates their focus furthermore to comprehend the choices recommended for taking care of the issue.

This approach might create a win-win approach because the process will be helpful to every party involved. The corporation style can help increase the level of commitment by transforming the worries of the parties involved in common interests. In the trade-off circumstance, there are no champions or losers since the negotiation teams are assured of flexibility (McCain, 2010).

The trade-off approach adds up to the benevolent practices and is observed to be more helpful in determining the direction of a negotiation process, which is imperative to others (stakeholders) and the members themselves. In the case of negotiation between Brazilian and the US agents, there is huge potential for coming up with a satisfactory solution to the two parties if the cultural bridge is built to encourage turning cultural diversity into strength. To create this bridge, the proposed strategy is discussed in the next section.

Steps in building the cross-cultural strategy

Keeping in mind the end goal of any negotiation process is to result in a fruitful transaction in the multi-social gathering as discussed in the US-Brazil negotiation scenario, the US group ought to endeavour to adjust the measurement of force/separation to minimize the level of stereotyping mentality when taking care of the Brazilian mediators. With a specific end goal to accomplish this, the arrangement initiative methodology of the US team ought to grasp the low power/separation score to make the extension in the middle of the negotiation for different moderators.

Accordingly, there will be a ceaseless collaboration that would motivate the individuals in the negotiation process to be prudent, without making a sentimental or stereotyping statement of a person with different views or way of negotiation (Schafer & Crichlow, 2010). The choice made in such an environment will not just be neighbourly to a bigger rate of the moderators, but also accommodating to various societies included in the real negotiation process.

Brilliantly, applying independent measurement as the pioneer of negotiation in a multi-social group will make a favourable authoritative social and a typical mutual association among the moderators (Mayfield, 2014). With a specific end goal to make the independent measurement as dynamic as can be allowed, it will be basic to present systems that will guarantee that the score is above board for all parties involves.

For example, the negotiation approach should underscore on expertise building, orderly correspondence inside of the set time breaking points, and congruity among the moderators. Hence, the proposed transaction authority approach for the groups involved will rotate around indicating appreciation to all, advancing concordance through smothering negative emotions, and acquainting changes logically without having to meddle with the current customs of the partners attempting to negotiate.

As the third-social measurement, applying a proactive approach in multi-social transactions between the two organizations would include making an initial framework that adjusts the parts played by each party involved. The framework will grasp the various parts and give a structure to the initiative because of aptitudes and not simply social contrasts. Case in point, through the formation of an ability preparation program for the negotiation group, it will be difficult to adjust the discontent as an after-effect of mediocrity or a predominance complex between the parties (Hannan & Freeman, 2011). In this manner, the components of specialists’ fairness, work configuration, and aggregation will become perfect for a positive result in the negotiation process and eventual settlement.

The last measurement is the parity of the instability inside of the multi-social arrangement group that might be interested in carrying out fruitful negotiation. This procedure is achievable through making frameworks that address the source of stress and give adapting instruments, particularly in the case of a negotiation process happening in a culturally diverse environment (Schafer & Crichlow, 2010). Accordingly, a low score is perfect for this element to guarantee that the agents involved in the negotiation process connect on the substance of the transaction rather than the identities of the negotiating parties.

This is achievable through the insignificant obstruction with the hierarchical structure, constrained enthusiastic reaction to customise the feedback and proactive articulation of any circumstance that may undermine the association between the mediators. Keeping in mind that the end goal is to adjust the upsides and downsides of a lower score, the proposed social extension procedure will focus on the long-term advantages of the fruitful transaction, as opposed to the difficulties in executing the negotiation process.

The last social measurement is the proper introduction in adjusting the social contrasts and the substance of the transaction. It is essential to execute systems that are basic in keeping up a low score in this measurement. A low score measurement interprets into original thoughts and imaginative expression among the moderators, particularly when the parties involved are from different cultures, despite the differences in views.

This is achievable through the advancement of a balanced, innovative, and self-completing the mediation process (Mayfield, 2014). When strategically adopted, this approach might make a uniform behaviour standard between the mediators involved in a negotiation process. In summary, the components of appreciation, proactive state of mind, and opportunity of expression will create a consistent negotiation process when the above elements are balanced.


Proper Preparation

For any team negotiating in a culturally diverse environment to be successful, there is a need for proper preparation in terms of the approach and other negotiation practices. This step will give the parties preparing for a negotiation process advantages such as efficiency and effectiveness in analysis and balancing any present cultural variations. Also, proper preparation might enable the teams involved in the negotiation to master the dynamics of conceding hard-line stand, without having to excessively compromise on the primary objective (Schafer & Crichlow, 2010).

Diagnose the structure of the negotiation

Since most negotiations occur within the borders of concentration and distribution of tasks, there is need to internalise consciousness in matching decisions such as exactly what to say, and how to say it, and when to say it (Carson, 2009). Besides, it is necessary to remain polite to avoid stereotyping perceptions, which might destroy the negotiation approach.

Identify and work with the BATNA

The negotiating team representing the interests of parties from different cultural backgrounds should adopt the Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) approach (Baack, 2009). This strategy provides the negotiators with the ideal approach for consensus building and servicing the unmet needs of the parties involves. To excel in negotiation, the BATNA approach should be internalised in the settlement goal rather than the egos of the parties involved. When undertaking a negotiation process in a culturally diverse environment, it is important to control the pro and anti-settlement groupings by capitalizing on the expected results, not personalities that are participating in the process.


The prime cultural differences affecting negotiations include language barrier, unfilled needs, personality variance, organization culture, and individual culture. There is a need to build a cultural bridge to avoid the effect of these cultural differences. The cultural bridge is critical in highlighting the misconceptions, conflicts, and challenges that might distract parties involved in a negotiation process. Besides, proper construction of the cultural bridge might determine the duration, concessions, and professionalism of the negotiation process. Therefore, cultural differences affecting negotiation can be addressed through proper preparation, stratifying the negotiation process, and adopting the BATNA approach.


Baack, D. (2009). Management communication. Alabama, Al: Pearson Prentice Hall. Web.

Carson, M. (2009). Saying it like it isn’t: The pros and cons of 360-degree feedback. Business Horizons, 49(2), 395-402. Web.

Fiske, S., & Taylor, S. (2013). Social cognition: From brains to culture. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications. Web.

Flamholtz, E., & Randle, Y. (2011). Corporate culture: The ultimate strategic asset. Stanford, CA: Stanford Business Books. Web.

Flatt, S., & Kowalczyk, S. (2008). Creating competitive advantage through intangibleassets: The direct and indirect effects of corporate culture and reputation. Advances in competitiveness research, 16(2), 34-38. Web.

Griffin, R., & Moorhead, G. (2013). Organizational behavior: Managing people andorganizations. New York, NY: Cengage Learning. Web.

Hannan, T., & Freeman, J. (2011). Structural inertia and organizational-change. American Sociological Review, 49(2), 149-164. Web.

Kotter, J. P. (2011). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publication. Web.

Maitlis, S., & Ozcelik, H. (2010). Toxic decision processes: A study of emotion and organizational decision making. Organization Science, 15(4), 275-393. Web.

Matos, P., Simoes, M., & Esposito, M. (2014). Improving change management: howcommunication nature influences resistance to change. Journal of Management Development, 33(4), 324-341. Web.

Mayfield, P. (2014). Engaging with stakeholders is critical when leading change. Industrial and Commercial Training, 46(2), 68-72. Web.

McCain, D. V. (2010). Evaluation basics. Arlington, UK: ASTD Press. Web.

Modaff, D. P., DeWine, S., & Butler, J. (2008). Organizational communication: Foundations, challenges, and misunderstandings (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education. Web.

Schafer, M., & Crichlow, T. (2010). Groupthink vs. high-quality decision making ininternational relations. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Web.

Weick, K., & Quinn, R. (2010). Organizational change and development. Annual Review Psychology, 50(1), 361-386. Web.