Postprint version. Published in Comparing Cultures: Dimensions of Culture in a Comparative Perspective; Henk Vinken, J. Soeters, P. Ester (eds.), January 1, 2004, pages 251-269. Copyright © 2004 BRILL.
In the more than 25 years since Hofstede's seminal work on culture first appeared, cross-cultural research has explored seemingly all aspects of behavior. With regard to cross-cultural negotiating behaviors, there is an embarrassment of riches. As data continue to accumulate, the search for a comprehensive synthesis seems not only appealing as a means of facilitating understanding, but also a necessary element of true knowledge creation.
In the following analysis, we relate Hofstede's dimensions of cultural variability to cross-cultural negotiating behavior in six countries. We propose that a careful application of Hofstede's framework to the large body of work on cross-cultural negotiating behavior is a first step in simplifying and clarifying our level of understanding.
Cultural variation has long been recognized as a key background factor in models of international negotiation (Sawyer & Guetzkow, 1965). Interestingly, a review of the country-specific negotiation literature revealed scant effort to relate dimensions of cultural variability to the large body of work that exists regarding negotiating behavior.
To test the approach, the authors undertook a systematic review of prior work on the negotiating behavior of six countries -Japan and five of its major trading partners USA, Germany, China, Mexico and Brazil. We began by reviewing the literature for negotiating styles in each of the six countries, thereby developing a comprehensive understanding of the 'typical' negotiating behavior in each country. We classified each country's behavior on twelve negotiation dimensions according to a high, medium, low scheme. Next, we ranked each of the six countries according to their index values on Hofstede's four dimensions of cultural variability: power distance, individualism, masculinity and uncertainty avoidance. We propose a set o relationships between Hofstede's dimensions and each country's negotiating behaviors, which are supported by the existing body of research. We then test these relationships via nonparametric measures of correlation. We found that negotiating behaviors cluster around one or more of the Hofstede dimensions.