Success Tips by Kimberley Roberts
Meeting Gifts - Part 1
for a business meeting requires a working knowledge of the
information to be discussed or presented, careful attention
to all details on the printed material to be distributed, and
perhaps a gift. This gift is a social gesture that may be expected
in some countries, and could be considered a bribe in others.
Knowing the gift guidelines for the country you’ll be
visiting will help make your meeting a success.
multi-national companies and some governments have very strict
regarding their employees accepting gifts.
To avoid creating a problem, it’s imperative you learn
the policies for the companies you do business with.
like Malaysia and Paraguay, concerned with corruption, frown
upon any gift that could be construed as a bribe. In
Malaysia you wouldn’t give a gift until you had established
a relationship with the person. In Singapore, government employees
are not allowed to accept gifts, and the United States limits
the acceptable dollar value to $25.
in some countries like Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines,
exchanging gifts is strongly rooted in tradition. Part of the
tradition is the gracious style used to present and receive
them. It’s important to plan time and focus on the process.
very important in Asia and the Middle East to only use your
right hand, or both hands, to offer or accept a gift.
In Japan and Hong Kong, use both hands.
Singapore a recipient may “graciously refuse three
times” before accepting your gift. But in Chile, gifts
are accepted and opened immediately. And in Indonesia, small
gifts are given on a frequent basis.
be cognizant of religious laws when selecting gifts. For
instance, pork is prohibited in the Jewish
and Muslim religions, so you wouldn’t select a gift
made from pigskin. As in India, don’t
offer a gift made from cowhide. Another prohibition for
the Muslim faith is alcohol.
standard to keep in mind for any gift you select is quality.
quality items that are not ostentatious. If you have
gifts with your company logo, it’s better if the logo
is discreet. And don’t give company logo gifts in Greece,
Spain and Portugal.
a meal at a nice restaurant is always a good business practice.
A fine dinner is a wonderful way to give a “gift
to your hosts”, to show your guests you appreciate the
business relationship you have with them, and an opportunity
to build rapport. People in Brazil, England, Panama, and Peru
enjoy being invited guests for a meal, and the Greeks look
forward to an evening filled with dining. In China, plan a
banquet, especially if you are being honored with one.
month I’ll discuss gift giving in greater detail
by region and country, but following are some highlights to
a country isn’t listed in a category, it means
gifts may or may not be exchanged. Should you receive
a gift, and don’t have one to offer in return,
you will not create a crisis. However, this is a good reason
a meal. It becomes your reciprocal gesture.
Countries in which a gift is expected:
- Europe – Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Ukraine
- Latin American – Bolivia, Columbia, Costa Rica
- Pacific Rim – China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea,
- Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand
Countries in which a gift is not expected on the first visit,
but would be expected on a subsequent visit:
Europe – Portugal,
- Latin American – Brazil, Chile, Guatemala,
- Peru, Venezuela
- Pacific Rim – Malaysia, Singapore
- Scandinavia – Finland, Norway
in which a gift is not expected, or gifts are less frequent
- Europe - England, France, Hungary, Italy
- Latin America - Uruguay
- Scandinavia – Denmark
- Middle East – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia
- United States
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FOCUS ARTICLE: Why Don't We All Just Get Along Together?
by Stephen Taylor, Director of
the International Business Center
the war in Iraq winds down and the reconstruction begins,
there continues to be a high level of disharmony among
Nations. Last month’s IBC Newsletter gave an overview
of how religion and Geert Hofstede’s Dimensions correlate.
In this month’s Focus Article we will look more closely
at the World’s people in terms of cultural ‘groupings’,
and how this may play a significant role in international
purpose of this article, we will analyze the delta, or
difference between Geert Hofstede’s Power Distance
Index (PDI) and Individualism Index (IDV). We designed this
comparative analysis to determine what, if any, distinguishing ‘grouping’ characteristics
may be observed.
two Dimensions were selected based on their combined contributed
impact on a society or culture. However, before
examining the results, let’s briefly review these two
Power Distance (PDI) focuses on the degree of equality,
or inequality, between people in the country's society.
- High Power Distance ranking indicates that inequalities
of power and wealth have been allowed to grow within the
society. These societies are more likely to follow a caste
system that does not allow significant upward mobility of
- Low Power Distance ranking indicates the society de-emphasizes
the differences between citizen's power and wealth. In these
societies equality and opportunity for everyone is stressed
Index (IDV) focuses on the degree the society
reinforces individual or collective achievement and interpersonal
- Low Individualism ranking typifies societies of a more
collectivist nature with close ties between individuals.
These cultures reinforce extended families and collectives
where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of
- High Individualism ranking indicates that individuality
and individual rights are paramount within the society. Individuals
in these societies may tend to form a larger number of looser
By subtracting the IDV ranking from the PDI ranking we generate
either a positive or negative number, i.e. a country with
high Power Distance and low Individualism will produce a
higher net score. While a country with low Power Distance
and high Individualism produces a lower net score. The actual
positive or negative number is relative and has no correlation
to good or bad, better or worse, in terms of this analysis.
a high score on this combined index indicates a culture
that is collectivist with inequality among the
population. On the other end of the scale, a low score indicates
a culture that is individualist with equality within the
population. For example, although the United States has the
highest Individualism ranking at 91, it also has a moderate
Power Distance of 40, generating a net score of -51
(PDI – IDV).
lower end of the rankings, New Zealand has an Individualism
of 79 and a Power Distance of only 22, thus a net score
On the upper end is Guatemala with an IDV of 6 and a PDI
of 95, and a net score of +89.
The combination of these two Dimensions highlights the unequal
and collectivist nature of the country.
a ranking continuum, each country becomes ‘grouped’ near
similar cultures, thereby more clearly differentiating each
The above Chart is produced here by an I-Frame link to
the ITIM.org Website.
listing begins in upper left with Guatemala, then
each row from left to right. Lowest score is New Zealand.
have taken the results and created four groups of countries
based on the combine PDI and IDV scores, as follows:
98 to 47
44 to 25
20 to -26
-30 to -57
reviewing the four 'groupings' above, Group I countries
have a very strong Collectivist nature with a great deal
of inequality among the members of the population. Groups
II is more Collectivist with a moderate level of inequality,
while Group III trends toward Individualism and equality.
Finally, Group IV is predominantly Individualist and supports
a higher level of equality between members of the population.
on this analysis, it could be anticipated that countries
within a "Group" would tend to relate to each other more
effectively than with members of other 'Groups' due
to their basic beliefs about equality and social structure.
It could also be anticipated that 'groupings'
farther away from their own (i.e. Group IV relative to
I) would have greater divergence and more difficulty in
"understanding" each others cultural values -
equality and social structure - Collectivism versus Individualism.
purpose of this article is help international business
people become more effective when working with people
from other cultures. Having an understanding and appreciation
for sometimes extreme differences is a critical
first step in building better rapport and understanding.
with all social-psychological studies and analysis, care
must be taken when applying the results to any specific
business or social interaction, as this information is
based on generalized studies.
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