Contract Negotiations in Western Africa: A Case of Mistake Identity
The negotiation that was entailed in this case encountered difficulties because of the cultural differences that were present. The two cultures had two different views on time. The Westerners were use to monocronic time (paying attention to one thing at a time) while the clients were use to polychromic time (preferring to do many things at once). The two negotiators had to wait for appointments, it was a long and tiring negotiation process that went on for 10 months; so of course there was a general feeling of slowness and that decisions were not being made. The Westerners were use to time being divided up with certain slots being reserved. They view time as money! The other side of the negotiation viewed time as more flexible. They would rather finish a conversation about nothing than rudely terminate it to make a meeting on time.
Time bounces around in a polychromic culture. They are use to interruptions. Another difference was high context vs. low context culture. The Western approach is to put everything in writing. The African culture will accept the verbal agreement as a spoken commitment. In this case, the deal has actually been made (in the African perspective) prior to the signing of the contract, which explains why the attorney general made the necessary corrections overnight and they signed the contract the next day.
Headquarters was not superb in this negotiation; it was rather poor. The positives were the people they selected. Peter was on top of the culture. He had high context culture experience, he was not likely to lose a contract they had spent years developing because of culture clumsiness. His open and friendly approach, even taking it as far to...