I have engaged in international business negotiations in more than ten countries around the world. Each transaction presented its own challenges.
Different Culture, Different Negotiation Strategy
- A different culture means a different negotiation strategy. That does not mean that you should not have one. Your overall strategy may include a year of developing relationships. Eventually, though there will be a negotiation, and a negotiation strategy that takes into account all of the cultural differences between the parties will be require
- There are companies that will help you prepare and provide guidance while you are in the foreign country. I would be very hesitant to do any kind of deal in China without consulting Pacific Rim Resources;
- If you have employees from the country in question, use them if there are no cultural barriers to doing so. For some countries there is.
- Read the books. There are now several books in the Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands series, some on business in certain areas and all designed to help the business person.
- Try to learn as much as possible about business parameters such as accounting regulations in the other country. Do not forget that a company in Europe does not have to keep its books according to GAAP. (See a “war story” about just that issue.)
- The European Union has a body of law that will have to be taken into account. This is a legal point to be discussed with counsel; I just know the EU laws impacted acquisitions upon which I worked.
I throw this in because Americans forget it so frequently. Canada is a foreign country, not the 51st state. You may think they do business just like us, but you would be wrong. If nothing else, remember that their legal system and way of doing business come from England, not the United States.
International business negotiations are more difficult. With proper preparation, including a complete negotiating plan, they can be approached calmly.