In a global economy, managers constantly negotiate with people from other cultures, whether the issue is coordinating operations within a multinational firm, arranging a joint venture, or convincing a foreign government to approve construction of a plant. Yet managers have had to rely on simplistic formulas — following lists of “dos and don’ts” — or very demanding ones — “doing as the Romans do” — to deal with the cultural aspects of these negotiations. Actually, a number of strategies are available. The author presents these strategies in a framework based on the parties’ level of familiarity with each other’s cultures and the extent to which they can explicitly coordinate their strategies. These factors determine the subset of strategies that are realistically feasible for an individual manager. Part 2 of this article, which describes a methodology for choosing among these strategies, appeared in the Spring 1994 issue.
I carried out the early stages of this work during my visits at the Euro-Asia Centre at INSEAD and Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business. For comments on earlier drafts, I thank Ellen Auster, J. Stewart Black, Tamara Johnson, Andre Laurent, Tom Murtha, David Saunders, Susan Schneider, Jim Tiessen, William Weiss, Sloan Management Review editors, and anonymous reviewers. Portions of this material were presented at the Academy of International Business annual meeting (1991), the Pacific Rim Forum of the David Lam Centre for International Communication at Simon Fraser University (1992), the Academy of Management annual conference (1992), the Negotiation Workshop at York University (1993), and the Joint Centre for Asia-Pacific Studies at the University of Toronto (1993).