Cultural Aspects of International Sourcing

PurchTips edition #57


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How Do You Assess Cultural Differences of Suppliers?

A key to establishing a successful relationship with a supplier in another country is to learn and adapt to the culture of the supplier's country.

Cultural research can be a big job. Where do you begin?
Answer these 15 questions and you'll cover a lot of what's necessary for a positive international relationship.

  1. Should I address my counterpart by his/her first name or in some other manner?
  2. How should I greet my counterpart (e.g., by shaking hands, by bowing, etc.)?
  3. What is important about the way business cards are exchanged?
  4. Should I give a gift to or expect to receive a gift from my counterpart?
  5. How close should I stand to my counterpart?
  6. Should I expect physical contact from my counterpart (e.g., a hand on the shoulder)?
  7. What comes first: establishing a relationship or working on business matters?
  8. Should we discuss political or personal matters?
  9. Which common clichés are not globally understood?
  10. Are there any common hand gestures in my country that my counterpart may consider offensive?
  11. Is sharing an entertainment experience important to my counterpart?
  12. What time should meals start and end?
  13. Is it acceptable to discuss business during meals?
  14. What laws will govern our transactions?
  15. How quickly can I expect my counterpart to make a decision?

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