In Germany, you absolutely must be over-punctual, in France, you definitely cannot talk business over a meal, and in England, you can offend your English counterparts by making demands that are too clearly formulated – these are all familiar clichés. But is there really anything behind these stereotypes when it comes to international negotiations?
Negotiations with people from other nations are part of everyday life in most procurement departments. Intercultural competence is especially important. Some of our expats report on their personal experience negotiating in their chosen home country.
Leave room for informal discussions and compromisesThere is no uniform negotiation style in China. Instead, the industry, region, company size and international experience of the contact persons shape the way they deal with foreign procurement teams. However, there are a few basics: In my experience, the Chinese are open and direct in negotiations and know what they want. They are usually very entrepreneurial, want to
Often, deals are only concluded after the official meeting, for example through a personal telephone conversation and a compromise between the parties. China trips should therefore be planned with some time between appointments to allow room for informal discussions. Negotiations with international stakeholders are different from negotiations between Chinese compatriots. However, if possible, expats should also seal a successful conclusion over dinner with a good rice liquor “baijiu”.
Christopher Gaede is a Project Manager at INVERTO in Cologne. As part of an extensive automotive project, he was in Shenyang for an extended period of time, where he worked with our Chinese project team and the client on site.
Detailed in all circumstancesAlthough I come from the Romanian city of Timisoara, which was part of the Habsburg Empire and is also called Little Vienna in my home country, I was surprised by the cultural peculiarities I discovered when I moved to Vienna. One difference I noticed very early on was the attitude toward preparing for a task - whether it was a professional or personal activity. I was surprised when I realized
Iulia Pop has been a Consultant in our Vienna office since January 2022. She studied in Vienna and Milan, speaks five languages and also completed an internship in Munich before choosing Vienna as her adopted home.
Five countries, five languages, five culturesScandinavia is often seen as a single entity from the outside. Many thereby often have images in their heads of very friendly blond people, genuine equality and a relaxed basic attitude. In fact, these are unifying elements that I have encountered in all Scandinavian countries. However, there are also clear differences between the nationalities, for example between Denmark and
Marcus Schwarz is Managing Director of INVERTO in Denmark. Born in Cologne, he opened the Copenhagen office in January 2018, thus launching our activities in Scandinavia.
Focus on deepening bondsBefore even sitting down at a negotiation table, the French are used to building strong relationships with their suppliers. It is commonplace to hold non-related work lunches and engage in small talk to establish trust between all parties. Despite this quirk, French negotiations tend to be more formal than in other countries that I have worked in. Particularly during the early stages of the negotiation
Juan Felipe González is a Project Manager in our Paris office. Born in Colombia, Juan completed his studies in France and the US before beginning his career in New York and London. He returned to France to join INVERTO in Paris.
Solving the verbal riddlesPersonal connections are essential to get in touch with new negotiation partners. In the UK, being introduced through a trusted third party will help in establishing a reliable relationship. For this reason, some organizations are even willing to pay for the right personal introductions. Communication with British stakeholders can prove tricky for expats. It is important to be clear but not too
Lina Tilley is a Principal in our London office. Born in Germany, she completed her studies at the Alliance Manchester Business School and has since made the UK her home.
Be straightforward (but not too much)In my experience, face to face meetings still play a key role in relationship building in Germany. Kick-starting a relationship with a meeting to discuss business performance and aspirations to evaluate the ‘business fit’ is an important first step for any negotiation. These sessions are quite formal with emphasis on job titles, hiearchy and business turnover projections. Taking
Theo Mizzi is a Project Manager in our London office. Since graduating in 2015, he has experience working in procurement in the food industry in Germany and the UK.
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