International Business Center Newsletter for Global Business and Education Leaders
Volume 2 - Number 5

   Welcome to this Issue of the

In this issue:

International Business Center Newsletter

Quick Intro

In this issue we cover a range of subjects for the international business person and business school student. Will you be visiting another country on business this year? Then understanding the Culture of Time will be critical for producing successful results, without getting upset, frustrated, or angry.

Next, Dr. Barton Goldsmith offers quick insights for effectively communicating in the workplace.

Plus, the IBC Director tells you why we may be asking you about the culture in your country. And last is the IBC Book Review, this month on Geert Hofstede's latest release.

- Do You Know the Culture of Time?
Understanding the issue of punctuality

- Effective Business Communication
Whether working domestically or internationally, successful results come from effective communications

- The Director's Corner
Comments, thoughts, and answers to subscribers questions on International Culture from the IBC Director

- Book Review Section
The New Edition of Cultural Consequences, by Geert Hofstede

Do You Know the Culture of Time?
by Kimberley Roberts

Kimberley Roberts  Good business relationships across cultural groups and geographic boundaries develop over time by paying attention to small, but important, details. One of these details is your arrival time for a scheduled business meeting, as the value of punctuality varies throughout the world.

In some cultures, such as the Chinese, and countries like Germany, being punctual is so important that you will personally insult your client if you don’t arrive on time. He or she will “lose face”.

In many other countries where punctuality is expected and valued, you will always want to be on time. Even though your client won’t be personally insulted if you were tardy, you will only gain a professional reputation and build a successful relationship by always being punctual.

In parts of the world, the attitude towards time and punctuality is more relaxed, as in the Latin countries of Central and South America. However, don’t let this relaxed local attitude undermine your professionalism. In most cases, to be credible you’re expected to arrive on time. Your client may or may not meet with you at the appointed time, but this is not meant to be insulting or disrespectful. It’s just a mind set that “being on time” is relevant to what else is happening that day. Relationships are more important than the clock. If it’s time for your meeting, but your client is currently engaged in a conversation with another person, that conversation and relationship will take priority for the moment. Only when that conversation has concluded will your client arrive to meet with you.

In the Middle East it’s culturally appropriate to keep the “other person waiting.” Knowing this, you will arrive on time, remain relaxed, perhaps catch up on some reading, and be gracious when you are finally ushered into the meeting. Becoming agitated over being kept waiting will not change the situation, and only put you in a bad frame of mind when the meeting does take place.

One interesting side note is the fact that countries within the former USSR are in transition regarding punctuality. Under the old Soviet regime working for the state, a person was employed for life, so there wasn’t any built-in motivation to be punctual since you couldn't be fired. This lack of awareness for being punctual can carry over into schedules today, with a Russian client’s late arrival of an hour or more.

However, especially in Belarus, Russia, and the Ukraine you are expected to always be punctual. It will adversely impact your credibility if you’re not, even if your client arrives after the appointed time.

It’s important to be aware of the countries in which the local customs don’t include being punctual for meetings. In these cases you’ll need to leave ample time between appointments, and at times, only schedule one appointment per day. This type of scheduling will eliminate the impolite and embarrassing position of having to cancel a previously scheduled appointment because your first meeting runs over the time you’ve allocated.

Brenda Townsend Hall PhD, Writer/Editor adds that, “France is most definitely a 'polychronic' culture and punctuality is low on the list of priorities. In fact most people expect a 15-minute delay and the further south you go the longer that delay becomes. If you have a social invitation it is actually quite impolite to turn up on time."

Also be cognizant that our world is filled with multi-national companies. An Asian company with a manufacturing facility in Guatemala may have an Asian cultural corporate environment. Therefore, arriving on time for a meeting is imperative even though Guatemala generally has a more relaxed attitude about punctuality.

So the geographic location for a business meeting may not always give a complete picture of what is expected from you. Learning about the client’s corporate culture will also be important.

The following list gives an overview regarding punctuality for business meetings.

Punctuality is Critical, Insulting if you are not on time China, Germany, Hong Kong,Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore
Punctuality is Highly valued, even at times a way of life Australia, Bangladesh, Chile, China, Denmark, Germany, Iran, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand (even a bit early), Norway, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Venezuela
Punctuality is Important, expected and appreciated Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, El Salvador, England, Fiji, Finland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy (especially in Northern Italy), Ivory Coast, Philippines, Qatar, Scotland, Sultanate of Oman, Switzerland, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States, Venezuela, Wales, Yugoslavia
Punctuality is Expected, but the locals may arrive late Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Ghana (may not show up), Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Mexico, Middle East, Nicaragua, Panama (usually on time for business meetings), Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia (may have others at meeting), Senegal, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Zambia (may not show up)
Punctuality more laissez faire Algeria, Caribbean, Columbia – except in larger cities, France - southern region, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Panama, Spain
* Delays in Latin American, Middle Eastern and African countries are not uncommon


Time operates under the influence of corporate and country cultures in many ways, both large and small. Even regions within countries may differ. For instance, the southern regions in France and Italy are more relaxed about time than the northern regions. In Columbia, people are punctual in the larger cities, but relaxed about time in other areas.

Learn what influences your clients. Whatever the circumstance, it's better to err on the side of being punctual, even in a culture that's relaxed about time. A business meeting may be critical and your client wants to know you're reliable. By paying attention to the details, you'll be in a position to develop mutually beneficial, long-term business relationships.

Kimberley Roberts publishes her weekly tips on appearance, behavior, and communication known as Kim's ClassyTips. She is a noted international speaker, and writes articles on global business etiquette and manners for a variety of publications.

Effective Business Communication
by Barton Goldsmith Ph.D., CEO Goldsmith Consulting

Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D.To understand how to effectively communication in the workplace, you have to first understand some basic psychological truths about how we, as people, tend to communicate.

If we communicate to a person in the way they understand best, that communication will be accepted and the team member will respond faster and with more motivation. There are three types of communicators. The first are the Visuals, those people that take in and process information through their eyes. They also prefer to think, or rather visualize with their mind’s eye. To be effective with them, you need to use key words such as "look, see, picture", etc. It is also valuable to give them printed or written materials to go along with what it is you are communicating. They prefer words that enable them to picture things.

The second type are Auditory communicators, these people use their hearing to develop understanding. They talk to themselves in words that their minds can listen to. They like words that help them hear things. When talking with them, use key words like "hearing, listening, sound", etc. These people tend to process information quickly and are sometimes likely to respond before you have finished talking.

Kinesthetic, the third type, are feeling people. It doesn’t matter how things look or sound to them, it needs to feel right (not necessarily good). Still, others imagine things in terms of movement, feeling and action. The famous scientist Einstein used this kinesthetic type of thinking when he formulated his famous theory of relativity.

Listen to how your team member communicates, they will use the key words for their type in normal conversation. After you have discovered how they communicate, speak with them in the same manner. It will greatly enhance your interactions.

To gain maximum interest, remember people are most interested in anything that has to do with them. This isn’t egotistical - it’s natural. Once you understand this, you can tailor your communications so that you receive maximum interest.

Be Aware of Non-Verbal Communications
Our senses shape our thinking. We remember and think about things as we saw, heard, or felt them. Some individuals and cultures stress one kind of thinking more than others do, though all cultures use all of them at one time or another.

You may not be sending the message you intend when dealing across cultures. You may be misinterpreting the sender’s message because of cultural differences. It is important to be aware of mixed messages and not make assumptions about the meaning of non-verbal communications.

Many people believe that when they speak, their words are the primary transporters of their thoughts. That’s just not the case. Become aware of nonverbal messages to harness your communication power.

Don’t Lose It
This final tip is one of the most powerful things you should NOT do. If you get angry, you lose. When you "lose it" in front of team members, their confidence is shaken and your credibility is undermined. If you start to get over-excited, take 20 minutes to cool off and then reconvene your meeting. It may help you to remember this quote by Thomas Jefferson; "Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain cool and unruffled under all circumstances."

Considered an expert on business, he has given over 5,000 professional presentations and has spoken to audiences worldwide. He can be contacted through his web site at:

The Director's Corner
by Stephen Taylor, Executive Director of the International Business Center

Stephen Taylor, Executive Director of the International Business CenterWe encourage and receive questions submitted by subscribers and visitors to the International Business Etiquette, International Business Center, International Business Careers, and Geert Hofstede Websites. We share some of these questions and answers here for IBC Newsletter subscribers.

One of the most rewarding aspects of heading the International Business Center is answering the questions we receive from our many Website visitors and IBC Newsletter subscribers.

While there are a large number of resources we use in responding to most questions, at times we need help. We have been very fortunate in the support we receive from Newsletter subscribers just like you.

Here is an example. We recently received a question from Teresa, a student at DePaul University in Chicago, asking some specific questions about business breakfast meetings in India. We immediately access our database for subscribers in India and sent out a message to several of them explaining our need for help in gathering the information.

As a result, we received a very nice reply from Meenakshi Chandra, Human Resources at Ernst & Young Pvt. Ltd. in Calcutta. Her answers were excellent, and not only did Teresa get her help, but we posted Meenakshi's information on the International Business Etiquette site at the following location India Business Breakfast so all Website visitors can now benefit from Meenakshi's help.

So don't be surprised if one morning you find a message in your in box from the International Business Center Staff asking for your help on a question pertaining to the country in which you live and work.

Together, we can work toward a better understanding of international culture and improving global communications

Mr. Taylor is the Executive Director of the International Business Center and has held executive management positions in international business development and marketing at leading global companies, including Henkel, Unilever, and 3M. He received his Masters of Arts Degree in International Management Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations by Geert Hofstede

Cultural Consequences - Second Edition - February 2003In preparation for our October IBC Newsletter Special Report on the challenges to Geert Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions, we are highlighting his recent release of the Second Edition of his classic work, first published in 1981 and an international bestseller, that explores the differences in thinking and social action that exist among members of more than 50 modern nations. Geert Hofstede argues that people carry "mental programs" which are developed in the family in early childhood and reinforced in schools and organizations, and that these programs contain components of national culture. They are expressed most clearly in the different values that predominate among people from different countries.

Geert Hofstede has rewritten, revised and updated Cultures Consequences for the twenty-first century, he has broadened the book's cross-disciplinary appeal, expanded the coverage of countries examined from 40 to more than 50, reformulated his arguments and a large amount of new literature has been included. The book is structured around five major dimensions: power distance; uncertainty avoidance; individualism versus collectivism; masculinity versus femininity; and long term versus short-term orientation.

Use this link for more information on Hofstede's Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations

Reviewer's Comments: Recently the work of Dr. Hofstede has come under critical review. To learn more about this subject go to

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About the International Business Center newsletter
The IBC Newsletter is sent monthly to international executives, managers, supervisors, and international business school students. The Newsletter focuses on issues, information, and trends of importance to conducting business on a Global perspective.

For more information and resources for Global Business visit our website at: International Business Center

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