Business Culture In Various Countries

Business Culture In Singapore

This Section contains information on everything a sales person needs to know while dealing with the people of Singapore under the following categories, click on link to read the related news/information items.
This section contains latest information and news related to Singapore, its basic need-to-know history, political settings and their IT Market condition.
o    IT Market
This section contains latest information and news related to the people of Singapore, their culture and practices.
This section contains details how to dress effectively while dealing with the Singaporean.
This section contains information on how the people of Singapore communicate and how we should reciprocate.
o    Office Hours
This section contains information on doing business in Singapore, their office hours, when they stay at home, their business etiquette, and other issues.
This section contains information on how to play their negotiation game.


This section contains information on how to entertain the people and what they expect.
o    English Word
o    Translation
o    Pronunciation
This section contains a few basic words in their dialect.

















About the Country


Singapore Today

·         Singapore is south-east Asia's hi-tech city-state which is famed for its obsession with cleanliness, the conservatism of its leaders and its rules covering activities from chewing gum to bungee-jumping.
·         The country comprises the main island - linked by causeways to the southern tip of Malaysia - and around 50 smaller islands.
·         Once a colonial outpost, Singapore has developed into one of the world's most prosperous places - with glittering skyscrapers and a thriving port.
·         The vast majority of the island's population lives in public-housing tower blocks.
·         The citizens enjoy one of the world's highest standards of living, but also a system of punishments for acts such as busking without a license or not flushing a public lavatory.
·         Government-led initiatives encourage Singaporeans to have more babies, be more courteous to each other, and "Speak Good English".
·         Chinese make up more than 75% of the community, along with Malays and Indians. Singapore also has a large number of foreign workers.
·         Although a multi-party nation, the People's Action Party (PAP) has been the dominant political force since independence. Human rights groups have accused some politicians of using defamation suits to silence their opponents.
·         Singapore is often referred to a one of Asia's "economic tigers". Its economy has weathered regional crises, including the 1997 Asian markets slump and the 2003 Sars virus outbreak.
·         The country was referred to - less kindly - by the writer William Gibson as "Disneyland with the death penalty".

Political Condition

·         Singapore is a Republic with a parliamentary system of Government and an elected President as the Head of State. Parliament is elected by general election every five years. The first sitting of Parliament was held on 8 December 1965. The first general election for Parliament was held on 13 April 1968. There are 24 registered political parties. The present Parliament, elected on 3 November 2001, has 84 elected members, one Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) and nine Nominated MPs who represent various professional and business sectors. The Judiciary administers the law independently of the Executive and this independence is safeguarded by the Constitution.
·         The political scene in Singapore has been dominated by the People's Action Party (PAP) since 1959. The party has won ten general elections in succession. The last general elections were held in November 2001. There are only three opposition members in the current Parliament. The next general elections are due before 2007.
·         In Singapore, the President is the Head of State. Prior to 1991, the President was appointed by Parliament and had a largely ceremonial role. In January 1991, the Constitution was amended to allow for the election of a President by Singapore citizens. The term of office for an elected President is six years. Under the Singapore constitution, the President may veto government budgets and appointments to public office. He may also examine how the Government exercises its powers under the Internal Security Act and religious harmony laws, and investigate cases of corruption.  A Council of Presidential Advisors is appointed to advise and make recommendations to the President. The President must consult the Council before performing some of his functions, for instance, in appointing key civil servants.
·         The first Presidential election was held on 28 August 1993. The first elected President was HE Mr Ong Teng Cheong. The second and current elected President is HE Mr Sellapan Rama (S R) Nathan.
·         The Singapore Cabinet is led by the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the President, as the Member of Parliament who commands the confidence of the majority of the Members of Parliament. On the advice of the Prime Minister, the President appoints other ministers from among the Members of Parliament to form the Cabinet.
·         The Cabinet is responsible for all government policies and the day-to-day administration of the affairs of state. It is responsible collectively to Parliament, and comprises the Prime Minister and the Ministers in charge of the Ministries of Community Development, Youth and Sports, Defence, Education, the Environment and Water, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Health, Home Affairs, Information, Communications and the Arts, Law, Manpower, National Development, Trade and Industry, and Transport.
·         Singapore's current Prime Minister is Mr Lee Hsien Loong. He took over from Mr Goh Chok Tong when the latter stepped down on 12 August 2004.


IT Market


·         A strong communication infrastructure and rapid developing research capabilities provide fertile ground for Singapore's information communications (ICT) industry. A large number of major international ICT companies locate their regional HQ in Singapore and some of them their R&D facilities as well. Singapore is the natural test-bed for the next generation of ICT products and services because of the state-of-the-art ICT infrastructure and human resource - as well as the high level of IT usage in the educational sector and at home.
·         In 2003, 74% of all households in Singapore owned one or more personal computers (PC). Almost two-thirds of all households (70%) have internet access (either broadband or non-broadband). There is almost total penetration for fixed phones as well as mobile phones.
·         Singapore's ICT industry grew by 4.5% to in 2003. Total revenue chalked up by the ICT industry in 2003 was USD20.2 bil. up from USD19.4 bil. in 2002. The industry revenue is expected to see a higher growth for 2004 (7.5%) and a steadier growth in 2005 (5%).
·         Hardware Retail and Software take the lion's share of the total ICT industry revenue in 2003, accounting for 35% and 25% respectively of the overall pie. These were followed by Telecommunication Services (about 20%), IT Services (14%) and Content Activities (7%).
·         The export market and the domestic market share of the total ICT industry revenue is close to 50/50. Singapore's ICT industry exported most of its products and services to United States of America and ASEAN countries. The next three largest export destinations are within Asia-Pacific, China, Australia and Hong Kong.
·         Singapore is focusing on building it's strengths in the creation of new content, software and hardwares. The aim is to build a sophisticated market that will serve as a living working laboratory for companies. Government agencies work to create opportunities for the test-bedding of new technologies, standards and solutions. 
·         Leading international IT companies have set up front-end development centres in Singapore. For instance, a dedicated technopreneur park - an IT startup incubator itself - has been established to allow new technology businesses to germinate. Called Phase Z.Ro, this mini business city has been customized for young companies focusing on biomedical sciences, IT and media to leverage on Singapore's ability to build international partnerships and exploit global opportunities. These facilities stimulate activities ranging from marketing and technology exchange to networking, business partnerships and collaboration.
·         2.5G mobile technology is being used with 3G trials in progress. M-Commerce and other uses of the mobile phones are looking for more contents and products / services to satisfy the customers.
·         Both the government public and the private sectors in Singapore are heavy users of  ICT products and services. The public sector in Singapore is amongst the global leaders in rolling out of e-government and e-citizen projects. Outsourcing of IT services will increase the trends not only with companies who may not have the means to support their own IT staff but by big conglomerate as well, such as Singapore Airlines and government departments.
·         There are good intellectual property laws in Singapore and they are vigorously enforced. This is the only way to go if the country hopes to remain as the base for the development and marketing of software.
·         Opportunities abound in most sub-sectors of the ICT sector driven by commercial as well as retail demands in Singapore, a world class global city state and a commercial and industrial capital. The strength possessed by Singapore's ICT sector gives a good indication of the opportunities that are available for the potential participant in this market.
Specific opportunities lie in the following areas:
·         End-to-end solutions for the connected home
·         ICT security
·         Partnership with foreign ICT companies to compete in third countries
·         Broadband multimedia applications and services
·         Web services
·         Wireless developments
·         Disaster recovery
Singapore's strength in ICT:
·         1) Networked Readiness 2002 - 2003: 3rd (after Finland and US) Source: Networked Readiness Index, 2002 - 2003
·         2) E-Business Readiness 1st in Asia (ahead of Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan) Source: EIU, May 2001
·         3) E-Commerce Infrastructure 1st in Asia, 4th internationally Source: World Competitiveness Yearbook 2000 
·         4) Most-Wired Government and Most Effective In Promoting The Use of IT Among Its Citizens (in a survey of 75 countries) Source: Survey by World Economic Forum and Harvard University, May 2002
·         5) E-Government Leadership 2nd Globally (after Canada) Source: Accenture, May 2004
·         6) Bronze Medallist Winner for e-Citizen Project Source: Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) in October 2000
·         7) One of the Top Seven Intelligent Communities in the World Source: The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), 2002
·         8) Internet Penetration 1st (ahead of China, HK, South Korea and Taiwan) Source: NetValue, March 2001
·         9)  Top Telecom Regulator in Asia (Telecom Asia User Survey), 2000 


People of Singapore


The Singaporean

  • Singapore is a conglomeration of Chinese (76%), Malay (15%) and Indian (6%) cultures. In the past, this racial mixture has lead to some conflict. However, today most Singaporeans enjoy racial harmony and national unity. Each group works hard to maintain its cultural traditions while building a modern, cohesive society. Singaporeans of the younger generation think of themselves as Singaporean first, and as Chinese, Malay or Indian second.

Culture and Practices

Gift Giving
  • Singapore prides itself on being the most corruption-free state in Asia. Consequently, it has strict laws against bribery. Government employees may not accept gifts of any kind, especially money.
  • A large gift should be presented to the entire group. When giving small gifts, they should be given to everyone present.
  • You can offer a present as a welcome gift or a thank you gift but it should not be an overly expensive item.
  • Some suitable gifts: chocolates, a souvenir from your country, a corporate gift with your company logo, brand name gifts [which don't have to be too expensive].
  • To be polite, people will usually refuse a gift before accepting it. They believe that this will prevent them from appearing greedy. You can continue to insist that they accept the gift and, upon acceptance, say that you are pleased that he or she has done so.
  • Unwrapping a gift in front of the giver is not a part of Singaporean culture. This action implies that the recipient is greedy and impatient. Moreover, if the gift turns out to be a poor choice, it will result in awkwardness. Instead, the recipient will briefly say 'thank-you', set aside the gift, and then open it only after your departure.

Suitable Attire


What you should wear

  • Singapore is incredibly hot and humid all year long, with a temperature range of 75F to 88F [24C to 31 C], and humidity above 90%. Because of this heat and humidity, business dress in Singapore is often casual.
  • Standard office wear [men]: dark trousers, light-colored long-sleeved shirts and ties. Jackets are not required.
  • When it is very hot and humid, a light-colored long-sleeved shirt [without a tie] and trousers are usually preferred.
  • Short-sleeved shirts are acceptable too but not in every organization.
  • Standard office wear [women]: blouse with pants or skirt. Hosiery and business suits [pants suits or skirt suits] are only required in more formal offices.
  •  Only some companies allow women to wear sleeveless blouses.
  • For ladies, light makeup is preferred because of the hot and humid weather. Accessories, such as a scarf, necklace, brooch, watch and ring should not be too 'excessive.'
  • Some Muslim women wear blouses that cover at least their upper arms and skirts that are at knee length or longer. They also wear religious headgear.
  • As a foreigner, you should dress 'up' until you are certain of the degree of formality required. The safest option is to wear a suit and remove the jacket when it is appropriate.
  • For some companies which operate during the weekends, jeans, polo tees and track shoes/moccasins are acceptable, but shorts/Bermudas, round-neck tees and slippers are a no-no.
  • Regardless of what you choose to wear, keeping a clean and dry appearance is important because you will tend to sweat a lot in this weather.

What you should not wear

  • Though Singapore is a liberal country, people might form a negative impression of women who wear clothes, which are too revealing.

Communication


How do they communicate

  • If you do not know the other party well or if this is the first meeting, follow the conversational leads that have already been established.
  • It's acceptable to ask general work-related questions but you should refrain from personal questions, such as age and income.
  • If you do not wish to answer any personal question, side step these questions as graciously as possible. Do not express outrage or similar feelings that will cause the other person to 'lose face.'
  • Pay compliments based on the other party's accomplishments and appearance.
  • Singaporeans love food and this will be a topic that will be responded to in a relaxed and casual way.

Topics of Conversation

  • Travel
  • Plans for the future
  • Arts
  • Accomplishments of the individual or success of the company
  • Economic advancement in Singapore
  • Discussing the variety of food available in Singapore or praising Singaporean cuisine

Topics to Avoid

  • Though Singapore is a harmonious, multi-racial, society, it is still recommended that you avoid racial and religious topics.
  • It is 'dangerous' to discuss the strained part of the relationship between Malaysia and Singapore [e.g. the water issue] because the person you are talking to might probably be a Malaysian who is now a Singaporean PR.
  • Politics [especially during the election period]
  • Criticizing any aspect of Singapore
  • Gossiping about another individual's personal life should be avoided. Even if the other party initiates the topic, try to sidetrack from it skillfully.


Doing Business in Singapore


Office Hours

  • Office hours are normally between 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Some offices, however, practice flexible hours, allowing workers to arrive any time between 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
  • Some offices will run for a half-day on Saturdays, typically in the morning.
  • Lunch period is usually between 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 pm or 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. In some offices, staff takes turns going for lunch.
  • Friday is the Muslim's holy day and those who work on Fridays will take a two-hour break during lunch.

National Holidays

  • If you are planning for business travel to Singapore in 2005, you should be aware of the Singapore Public Holidays. (Besides having your business card translated to Chinese)  
Jan 01 -- New Year's Day.
Jan 21 -- Hari Raya Haji
Feb 09 -- First day of Chinese New Year. 
Feb 10 -- Second day of Chinese New Year. 
Mar 25 -- Good Friday. 
May 02 -- Monday After International Labor Day. 
May 23 -- Monday After Vesak Day. 
Aug 09 -- National Day. 
Nov 01 -- Deepavali Day. *** 
Nov 03 -- Hari Raya Puasa.
Dec 26 -- Monday after Christmas Day. 
****** The date, 01 Nov. 2005, for Deepavali is based on calculations as before.  It will be counter-checked with the Indian Almanacs when they are available towards the end of 2004. Should there be a difference, we will update this page. 

Business Card Etiquette

  • Business cards should be printed in English. English is considered as a first language in Singapore and people usually communicate in this language in business.
  • After self-introduction, business cards should be exchanged with every business associate present. Bring a plentiful supply of cards with you, since Singaporean businesspeople tend to be enthusiastic about exchanging them.
  • With both hands holding your card, present it to the recipient with the print facing him or her.
  • When you receive the other party's card, accept it with both hands, then study it for a few moments before carefully placing it into your business card holder, pocket, or on the table.
  • Do not hastily stuff a business card into your back pocket, as it will appear rude. By the same token, do not write on someone's business card.
  • After examining a card, address the person by his name or title [if he/she is of seniority in terms of age or rank]. This will help you remember his/her name and build rapport quickly.

Basic Work Culture

  • Punctuality is important for all business appointments. It is considered an insult to leave a Singaporean business executive waiting.
  • Appointments should be scheduled at least one week in advance.
  • Most Singaporeans arrive at social events on time or slightly late. According to certain customary beliefs, a visitor who arrives on time for a meal gives the impression of being greedy.
  • Although you should make the effort to be on time, once in a while a Singaporean may prefer to arrive a few minutes late so as not to appear overly eager or anxious, especially if the person has been invited to an event at which food will be served.
  • Guests may arrive a few minutes early to a social occasion only when a close friendship has been established. If you are hosting a social event and your guests are close friends, make the effort to be ready early.
  • On rainy days, call for a taxi instead of waiting at a taxi stand or hailing it from the road. Otherwise, you might end up waiting for hours and missing your appointments.
  • If, for whatever reason, you can't make it for your appointment, please remember to call [preferably personally] to postpone the time or the date.

Organizational Structure

  • Singaporeans claim they are an egalitarian society, yet they retain strong hierarchical relationships that can be observed in the relationship between parents and children, teachers and students, and employers and employees.
  • This goes back to their important cultural value, group dependence.
  • This reliance on hierarchy is drawn from Confucianism, which emphasizes respecting age and status, even blind obedience to one's elders.
  • In the workplace this is seen in the increased deference that is paid to employees who are older.
  • The elderly are always treated with the utmost respect and courtesy.
  • Even if you do not personally know the individual, you will be expected to give special consideration.
  • Elders are introduced first, are given preferential seating, are given the choicest food, and in general put on a pedestal.
  • There was a law passed in 1996 that mandated that children must assume financial responsibility for their elderly parents should the need arise.
  • This is indicative of the high status of the elderly and the challenges facing the small country as the next generation becomes more individualistic.


Sensitive issues

  • Personal relationships are the cornerstone of all business relationships.
  • Business is a matter of being tied into the proper network, which is the result of long- standing personal relationships or the proper introductions.
  • This is a group-oriented culture, so links are often based on ethnicity, education or working for the same company.
  • Once you are recognized as part of the group, you will be accepted and expected to obey the unwritten rules of the group. 
  • Relationships take time to develop.
  • You must be patient as this indicates that your organization is here for the long-term and is not looking only for short- term gains.
  • Always be respectful and courteous when dealing with others as this leads to the harmonious relationships necessary within business.
  • Rank is always respected. The eldest person in the group is revered.
  • Most Singaporeans are soft-spoken and believe a calm demeanor is superior to a more aggressive style.
  • Watch your body language and facial expressions.

Negotiation Rules


How to Play it Smart

  • Singaporean businesspeople tend to allow their feelings to guide their decision-making and problem solving. Nationalism also tends to be a strong influence in thinking.
  • The group, rather than the individual, prevails in Singaporean business culture. Moreover, the individual identity is subsumed into the group. The oldest or most competent member usually assumes the leadership position.
  • Forming a relationship with each group member is essential to conducting business in Singapore. Your Singaporean counterparts must genuinely like and feel at ease with you.
  • You will probably be required to take several trips over a period of months before negotiations conclude.
  • In Singaporean business culture, the personal relationship you build is often considered more important than the company you represent.
  • If your company replaces you with another representative, your substitute will have to rebuild the personal relationship you have established.
  • Singaporean business culture is very ethnocentric: there tends to be an inherent trust among people of the same ethnic group.
  • Singaporean business culture is intensely competitive and has an exceptionally strong work ethic.
  • Be aware that Singapore is a meritocracy. Whether employed by business or the government, employees will rarely advance without committing themselves to long hours and intensely hard work. Executives usually work much longer days than their subordinates.
  • Professional competence, merit, and the ability to work within a team are heavily emphasized.
  • You'll find that business negotiations in Singapore are conducted at a much slower pace than in the United States.
  • Age and seniority are revered in this culture. If you are part of a delegation, ensure that the most important members are introduced first. If you are introducing two people, state the name of the most important individual first.
  • Stand when family members more than one generation older than you make an entrance. Also, follow this courtesy when your manager or someone higher in rank than you enters a room.
  • When sitting in a chair, keep your feet flat on the floor, rather than crossing your legs in front of elders or hierarchical superiors.
  • Always speak in quiet and gentle tones. Moreover, remain calm.
  • 'Losing face', that is, being embarrassed or losing control of one's emotions in public, has negative consequences in Singaporean society.
  • 'Losing face' includes expressing anger in public; anyone who makes such displays is judged as unworthy of respect and trust.
  • Keep your cool and refrain from showing that you are upset. By remaining calm at all times, you will be perceived as being able to control your emotions, rather than allowing them to control you.
  • Avoid publicly debating, correcting, or disagreeing with an older person or superior. The older person or superior will only 'lose face', and, consequently, you will lose the respect of others. This rule should also be followed when you are with your boss and are meeting with Singaporeans.
  • Outbursts of laughter are not always indicative of mirth in this culture. More often, laughter is used to mask 'loss of face', nervousness, shyness, or disapproval.
  • Singaporeans will rarely answer a question with a blunt 'no.' Be aware that a 'yes' that sounds hesitant or weak usually means 'no.'
  • Tentative answers such as 'Yes, but...', 'This may not work out...', and 'My schedule may not allow me...' may also be indications of a 'no' answer.
  • If you can tell that the respondent is deliberately ignoring your question, this is often another way of indicating a 'no' answer.
  • Sucking in air through the teeth is one way to signal a definite answer of 'no.' In Singaporean business culture, this sound is used to indicate that there is a serious problem, even if on the surface, what is being said sounds positive.
  • An answer of 'perhaps' may indicate a 'yes.' If your counterpart agrees to your proposal and offers assistance to you, this may also be interpreted as a 'yes.'
  • Politeness is a necessary element in a successful business relationship with Singaporeans. Politeness will not, however, affect their determination to reach their objectives.
  • Avoid making facial expressions that suggest disagreement [i.e. grimacing at something you may disagree with or shaking your head to indicate 'no'].
  • In Singapore, if you don't want to answer any personal question, you can smile and politely reply that these subjects are not discussed in your culture.
  • It is considered polite among Singaporean Chinese to offer both the positive and negative possibilities in practically every question that requires a decision. For example, rather than asking, 'Would you like to go to the theatre?' they are likely to ask, 'Do you want to go to the theatre or not?'
  • Singapore has its own brand of English known as 'Singlish.' Singlish differs from English in terms of sentence structure, grammar as well as the frequent 'empty words' such as 'lah', 'leh', 'hor' and 'meh.' However, not all Singaporeans speak Singlish. Many of them do speak perfect English.
  • Together with the weird language usage, Singaporeans might have a strong accent because all of them speak a second language. If this is the first time you are talking to Singaporeans, you might not understand fully what they are talking about. Be patient and you will get used to it after a while. If you do not understand, you can politely ask him or her to repeat.



Entertaining For Success


When you Entertain

  •  
  • Try to accept social invitations of any kind. These occasions are important parts of doing business in Singapore.
  • Follow Singaporean business etiquette and respond to invitations you receive in writing. If you cannot attend, at least send a representative from your company.
  • Generally, spouses may be invited to dinners but not to lunch. Business will not, however, be discussed on any occasion when spouses are present.
  • The anticorruption laws in Singapore are exceptionally strict. Consequently, government officials often cannot participate in social events.
  • Social occasions tend to revolve around food.
  • When you are making arrangements for a meal, be aware of the food that may be considered taboo by your Singaporean clients. In most situations you will be able to determine which food is restricted based on the person's religion. For example, a devout Muslim counterpart will not partake of alcohol or pork, whereas your Buddhist counterpart will not eat beef.
  • It is all right to ask if someone has any dietary requirement, especially if you are arranging for a full day training course or dinner.
  • Singapore has a strong 'coffee culture.' Therefore, instead of inviting you for meals, your client might invite you for coffee at Starbucks or Coffee Beans.
  • Depending on the clients you are dealing with, some might offer to bring you to 'nightclubs' or 'karaoke.' These nightclubs and karaoke can be sleazy and you will find there female escorts who attempt to make you consume great amounts of alcohol.
  • Singapore is rich in nightlife. Therefore, some dinner invitations can start as early as 7 p.m. and move on to night entertainment and end as late as after midnight.
  • Many businessmen in Singapore like to play golf. There are many golf clubs and country clubs in Singapore. Your business counterpart might even invite you for a golf session or a short 2-day trip to a golf club in the southern part of Malaysia or even to one of the islands.
  • Juices, soft drinks, water, alcohol and beer are popular beverages that may be served with a meal. Keep in mind that in Singapore, all beverages are usually served cold or with ice.
  • At a more formal Chinese dinner, one custom is for your host to raise his or her own glass and say 'please' or 'ch'ing.'
  • When dining in a Chinese restaurant, you will also be presented with several bowls that are to be used for rice, soup, bones, and sauces. A napkin will also be available.
  • If you have something in your mouth that you would like to remove, use your chopsticks instead of your hands. The unwanted food item should be placed either on the small plate that was provided for this circumstance or on the tablecloth if a plate is unavailable.
  • When drinking soup, you should use the spoon that was provided. It is considered bad manners to drink soup straight from the bowl or to make slurping sounds.
  • One taboo in using chopsticks is sticking them into the rice bowl. This is because in ritual offerings to the dead, some Chinese will stick chopsticks vertically into the rice bowl. Therefore, when you do this at a dinner table, it might look like you are offering food to the 'dead' [who is your client sitting opposite you].
  • Someone might use his cutlery to take food and put it on your plate. This is a gesture of hospitality. However, you might want to refrain from reciprocating the same gesture as you might pick something that the other person does not eat. The other party might not openly express it and some will even 'swallow' it out of politeness.
  • Indian utensil etiquette requires that the serving spoon should not touch the plate when either you or another person is putting food on a plate.
  • When you are serving yourself, you should make a point of taking only the portion of food nearest to you. In addition, do not stir the food as if you are searching for something.
  • Singaporeans will notice if you are not eating a particular dish and they will ask you for the reason. If you don't want to appear picky, a good excuse is health reasons.
  • If you like the food [or even if you don't like the food], pay compliments to the host for making an excellent choice.



In their Language


In English
In
Pronunciation

Greeting



Thank you



Sorry



Please



Excuse Me



Welcome



My Name is <your name>



Nice meeting you





Business Culture In Japan
This writeup contains information on everything a sales person needs to know while dealing with the people of Japan under the following categories, click on link to read the related news/information items.
This section contains latest information and news related to Japan, its basic need-to-know history, political settings and their IT Market conditions.
o    Japan Today
o    IT Market
o   The Japanese
This section contains latest information and news related to the people of Japan, their culture and practices.
This section contains details how to dress effectively while dealing with the Japanese.
o    Topics to Avoid
This section contains information on how the people of Japan communicate and how we should reciprocate.
o    Office Hours
This section contains information on doing business in Japan, their office hours, when they stay at home, their business etiquette, and other issues.
This section contains information on how to play their negotiation game.


This section contains information on how to entertain the people and what they expect.
o    English Word
o    Translation
o    Pronunciation
This section contains a few basic words in their dialect.

Business Culture In Netherlands
This Section contains information on everything a sales person needs to know while dealing with the people of Netherlands under the following categories, click on link to read the related news/information items.
This section contains latest information and news related to Netherlands, its basic need-to-know history, political settings and their IT Market condition.
o    IT Market
o   The Dutch
This section contains latest information and news related to the people of Netherlands, their culture and practices.
This section contains details how to dress effectively while dealing with the Dutch.
o    Topics to Avoid
This section contains information on how the people of Netherlands communicate and how we should reciprocate.
o    Office Hours
This section contains information on doing business in Netherlands, their office hours, when they stay at home, their business etiquette, and other issues.
This section contains information on how to play their negotiation game.

This section contains information on how to entertain the people and what they expect.
o    English Word
o    Translation
o    Pronunciation
This section contains a few basic words in their dialect.
















About the Country


Netherlands Today

·         Dutch, the official language, is spoken by around 90% of the population. Around 350,000 people, or 2.2% of the population, speak Frisian as their first language, mainly in the northern province of Friesland, where it is recognized as an official language. Turkish and Arabic are also spoken in the Netherlands, each by over 0.6% of the population.
·         With a population of just 16.3 million, the Netherlands ranks 15th in the world in terms of total GDP - similar to Australia in GDP terms (World Bank data, September 2004). It is the world's eighth largest exporting country and the fifth-largest source of direct investment. A key feature of the Netherlands' economy is its strategic position as a centre of international commerce. More than half of the Netherlands' GDP comes from trade. The Netherlands has an important commercial presence within the Asian region. 
·         The Netherlands has a wealthy and open economy heavily reliant on foreign trade. The economy is noted for stable industrial relations, moderate unemployment and inflation, a sizable current account surplus, and an important role as a European transportation hub. The country continues to be one of the leading European nations for attracting foreign direct investment.
·         Incentives offered for foreign investment are not as generous as in other European countries. However, the relative advantages that already exist in the Netherlands continue to make the country a popular base for foreign investment. These advantages include the labour stability that is gained through the consultative industrial relations mechanisms, and a skilled and well-educated workforce with multilingual abilities and an international outlook. Distribution and call centres and information-technology companies have been attracted to these advantages in recent years
·         The country's geographic position in relation to other EU economies, its relatively flexible labour relations and skilled, multilingual workforce are regarded as major strengths. Its infrastructure, including the transport hubs in Rotterdam (the world's largest ports) and Schiphol Airport (almost 40 million passengers per year) and distribution networks underpin its economic success The heavily populated west of the country has developed into a very important centre of industry. Of particular importance are food processing, petroleum-based industries, chemicals and metal-working. There are also sizeable printing and electrical goods industries.
·         Prior to the recent global economic slowdown, the Netherlands' economy had emerged as one of Europe's most successful, with consistently strong economic growth and job creation, based on a consensus approach (between government, unions and employers) to economic management. However, the economy, which is sensitive to decline in economic activity elsewhere in Europe, especially Germany, has slumped since 2001, recording GDP growth of -0.9 per cent in 2003 and 1.3 per cent in 2004. GDP growth of 1.3 per cent is forecast for 2005.  Consumer price inflation averaged 2.1 per cent in 2003 and decelerated to 1.2 per cent in 2004.  It is forecast to remain low at 1.4 per cent in 2005.  Registered unemployment increased to 6.7 per cent in 2004, up from 3.5 per cent in 2001. 
·         In the current economic climate the Government faces important long-term decisions regarding infrastructure. These include the further expansion of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, rail freight transport from Rotterdam to the German hinterland, and continuing liberalization of the electricity and gas markets. To date, the focus has been on public investment, but there are increasing calls to press ahead with private or mixed investment models for major projects.


Political Condition

·         The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a constitutional and hereditary monarchy with a bicameral parliament (Staten-Generaal). The Head of State, Queen Beatrix, acceded to the throne in 1980, marking her Silver Jubilee on 30 April 2005. Executive authority is exercised through the Prime Minister presiding over the Council of Ministers (Cabinet). There are three levels of government - national, provincial and municipal. The Netherlands is divided for administrative purposes into twelve provinces, each administered by a directly-elected Provincial Council, a Provincial Executive and a Sovereign Commissioner, who is appointed by Royal Decree.
·         General elections for the national government are normally held every four years, using a system of strict proportional representation. The upper house of Parliament, the First Chamber, consists of 75 members indirectly elected by members of the 12 Provincial Councils. The Second Chamber of Parliament, which is roughly equivalent to the Australian House of Representatives, has 150 members elected by universal adult suffrage. It alone has the right to initiate legislation and amend bills submitted by the Council of Ministers. Under the system of proportional representation, no single party has ever won an outright majority, necessitating coalition governments. 
·         Elections on 15 May 2002 saw the emergence of a new populist party - Lijst Pim Fortuyn (LPF). The controversial and outspoken founder of the party, Pim Fortuyn, was assassinated in May 2002 just prior to the elections, but his party went on to gain the second highest number of parliamentary seats and, with the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and Liberals (VVD), became a part of the ensuing governing centre-right coalition, headed by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende. The coalition, however, was short-lived. The Cabinet resigned on 16 October 2002, 87 days after it was formed, making it the shortest post-war Cabinet in the Netherlands. 
·         New national elections were held on 22 January 2003. The CDA again won the most number of seats (44), followed closely by the Labour Party (42). The LPF dropped to only eight seats. The CDA formed a centre-right coalition with the Liberals and Democrats (D66), again under the leadership of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende. The government is faces significant economic and budgetary challenges, and has begun a series of substantial and unpopular cost-cutting measures. The government is also continuing policies designed to tighten conditions for immigration and to counter illegal immigration.


IT Market


·         The ICT public sector market in the Netherlands is set to grow. The national government budget for ICT in 2003 is EUR1,628 billion and will grow to EUR1,710 billion in 2005
·         Efficiency gains, cutting costs, aligning business and ICT strategy and Dutch support for ICT are some of the factors driving Dutch ICT spend.
·         Information and communications technology (ICT) end-users span the entire spectrum of public and private-sector organizations. The Netherlands is relatively "light" on ICT manufacture and strong in systems integration and services, and it offers a good pool of potential partners. Local representation will in most cases be a prerequisite for successful market entry. There are few non-Dutch distributors with extensive customer bases in the Netherlands, except those that have their own operations there.
·         Software developers in the Netherlands have traditionally focused on supplying custom solutions rather than standard software packages, although they are relatively strong in standard business packages. Market opportunities exist in specialized (technical) software such as graphics and CAD/CAM, desktop publishing, and expert systems. Documentary Information systems (DIS), including Optical Data Storage and electronic data interchange (EDI)/e-commerce, are important growth areas, as are communications-related PC software and add-on products such as networking and Internet products and voice-related systems.
·         The multimedia software industry is growing rapidly. Key areas of application include education, an area where the Netherlands lags behind other developed countries. The government has an extensive program to stimulate more use of multimedia IT in education (including more and better Dutch-language educational software). The Netherlands has a well developed geographical information systems (GIS)/geomatics sector.
·         The combination of a highly qualified, multilingual ICT workforce, a stable economy and business climate, and the country's inherent logistical advantages can make the Netherlands attractive both as a "test market" for entry into Europe and as a strategic base of operations for co-coordinating activities throughout Europe. The relatively sophisticated domestic software industry provides a good pool of potential companies for joint ventures and strategic partnerships, both in a Dutch and broader European context.


People of Netherlands


The Dutch

·         The Dutch society is egalitarian and modern. The people are modest, tolerant, independent, self-reliant, and entrepreneurial. They value education, hard work, ambition and ability. The Dutch have an aversion to the nonessential. Ostentatious behavior is to be avoided. Accumulating money is fine, but spending money is considered something of a vice. A high style is considered wasteful and suspect. The Dutch are very proud of their cultural heritage, rich history in art and music and involvement in international affairs.


Culture and Practices

·         Formality prevails in Dutch business culture at first contact. The best policy is to wait for your Dutch contact to introduce you to others. If this is not done, you may take the initiative by introducing yourself by name to those in your company and extending your hand. It is also part of Dutch business protocol to shake hands as you are leaving.
·         A courtesy or professional title, followed by a last name, should always be used unless you are invited to do otherwise. Academic titles are hardly ever used in spoken conversation.
·         The order of names among the Dutch is the same as in North America, with the first name followed by the surname.
·         Mr. translates to Mijnheer [also spelled Meneer]-[abbreviated in writing as Dhr.]
·         Mrs. or Ms. translates = Mevrouw abbreviated in writing as [Mevr. or Mw.]
·         Professional titles are hardly ever used when speaking. Usually, a lawyer, doctor or engineer who prefers that you use a title will introduce himself or herself to you that way [which would be considered very snobbish by his fellow Dutch].
·         If your colleague is experienced in dealing with North Americans, he or she may initiate moving to a first-name basis to help you feel at ease.
·         Written correspondence in the Netherlands tends to be very formal. Learn the recipient's correct professional title and ensure that you use it in the letter [since the letter might be passed on to other departments].
·         When entering a smaller store, it is considered polite to say 'Good day' to the customers and employees present.
                                                                           Gift Giving
·         Wait until you have established a relationship with your Dutch contacts before presenting them with gifts.
·         Any gift should be of good quality but not obviously expensive. Modest gifts are usually the safest choices. Expensive gifts make people embarrassed and might even be seen as bribery.
·         If you are invited to dinner at a Dutch home, it's recommended that you bring a bouquet of flowers or potted plant for the hostess. Another option is to send a bouquet or potted plant the following day.
·         If you give a gift of wine, your hosts will be interested and thankful, but may leave the wine unopened, thinking it does not match this evening's food, or has been shaken on the way to the gathering. Since wine collecting is popular here among the well-to-do, do not give a gift of wine unless you are certain that you can make an appropriate selection for the recipient.
·         Bringing a gift of chocolate or candy is often appreciated when you are invited to a Dutch home, especially if there are children around. If you know that children will be present, it's recommended that you bring something for them, too, such as candy or a small toy. Belgian chocolate is highly appreciated.

Appreciated Gifts

  • Books about your home country or city
  • Imported liquor
  • Desk accessories
  • Quality pens
  • Pocket calculators [only of designer quality]
·         Electronic gadgets [only of designer quality]

Suitable Attire


What you should wear

·         Business dress in the Netherlands is fairly conservative, but it depends upon the profession.
·         In the financial industries [perhaps the most conservative of all], most businessmen wear dark suits, muted ties, and white shirts; women typically dress in dark suits and white blouses. Expect to wear the same clothes when invited to dinner.
·         Some professions [mostly related to consumer products, IT and arts] allow very informal dress. Quite a few executives save their ties and jackets for outside the office.
·         As in many countries, Dutch men remove their jackets when working. Follow their lead.
·         In certain industries, you may be surprised to find that the higher a person's rank, the more informally he or she is permitted to dress. For example, in some offices, you may find the sales clerks in suits and the boss in jeans and a sweater.
·         Because of the stress on egalitarianism in this society, the wealthier and more successful a Dutch executive becomes, the more he or she must make an effort to maintain an ordinary appearance. Generally, the wealthy do not wear beautiful designer clothes, [at least not immediately visible as such].


What you should not wear

·         Generally, being pragmatic, the Dutch like to dress informally. You'll observe that in some industries, very few men wear suits. A more popular ensemble consists of gray flannel trousers with a sports coat--which can often be worn even when attending a dinner. If you opt for this look on a more formal dining occasion, such as at the home of a boss or other superior, wear a tie. Whenever you're in doubt, the best policy is to call ahead and inquire about the dress requirements.
·         Dressing up is permissible on appropriate occasions. A tuxedo for men and an evening gown for women may be expected for formal parties, dinners, or an opening night at the theater.
·         Casual wear is essentially the same as in the North America. Shorts, however, are acceptable only when jogging or hiking.

Communication


How do they communicate

·         Be aware of recent political events, both in your own country and in the Netherlands, since the Dutch tend to be keen on discussing politics. Don't, however, get involved in a political discussion if you are not well informed.
·         Regarding Dutch politics, remember that one's choice of party is considered private information.
·         In private conversation, the Dutch may easily criticize American policies, but remember that in Dutch culture a critical approach is a sign of involvement rather than of rejection
·         Make it clear that you are aware that the country is officially called the Netherlands. But in speaking English, the Dutch themselves will also say Holland, a shorter term officially referring to only two of the 12 provinces that make up the country.
·         Contacts are vital to doing business in the Netherlands, so make a point of remembering the family name of every possible person who could give you or your company a good reference.
·         After first contact, the Dutch like a fairly personal approach, certainly when business contact will be over a longer period. Meaningful conversation is appreciated after business is finished, as a way to become closer.

Topics of Conversation

  • Your home country or city
  • Your flight and accommodations [briefly only]
·         Politics [if you know what you're talking about]

Topics to Avoid

·         Boasting about your income and possessions
·         Criticizing the Dutch Royal Family--enquiring about them, however, is OK
·         Religion [This has been a very private issue since the 1970s. Many Dutch people never go to church. They don't welcome anything they might perceive as proselytizing.]
·         Sex/legalized prostitution in the Netherlands [Asking a question on the issue is OK in some situations, but this is obviously a topic for outside direct business contact.]



Doing Business in


Office Hours

  • Business hours, generally, are 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
  • Banking hours, generally, are 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Some banks have Thursday night hours as well.
·         Store hours vary and can remain open between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, but few shops open that long. Generally, supermarkets in city centers will be open between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Other stores, and elsewhere, however, will close at 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m.

National Holidays


Public holidays and commemorative days (2005 - 2007)

 2005
 2006
 2007
New Year's Day
1 January
1 January
1 January
Good Friday
25 March
14 April
6 April
Easter
27 en 28 March
16 en 17 April
8 en 9 April
Queen's Birthday
30 April
30 April
30 April
Remembrance Day
4 May
4 May
4 May
Liberation Day
5 May
5 May
5 May
Ascension
5 May
25 May
17 May
Whitsun
15 and 16 May
4 and 5 June
27 and 28 May
Christmas
25 and 26 December
25 and 26 December
25 and 26 December
  • Offices: Monday to Friday 8:30p.m. - 5:30p.m. (37 hours)Banks: Monday to Friday 9a.m. - 4p.m.Government: Monday to Friday 8:30a.m. - 4p.m.Retail: Store hours are generally from 9a.m. - 6p.m. weekdays, with one late evening per week, 9a.m. - 5p.m. on Saturday and closed on Sunday

Business Card Etiquette

  • It's unnecessary to have your business card translated, since most Dutch businesspeople are fluent in English. Promotional materials and instruction manuals, however, should be translated into Dutch, especially when dealing with complicated terminology.
·         There is a deep respect for higher education in this country; so be sure to include any university degree above a B.A. on your business card. Do not, however, mention it in conversation.

Basic Work Culture

·         Planning, regulating, and organizing are prevailing values in this culture.
·         Punctuality is essential and expected in Dutch business culture, whether for business or social engagements.
·         The Dutch as an indication that you have not planned properly perceives openly showing impatience and insisting on A.S.A.P. Their A.S.A.P. [z.s.m.] usually means: at your earliest convenience.
·         If you know that you will be late for an appointment, be sure to phone ahead and give a plausible excuse.
·         The Dutch place tremendous importance on the efficient use of time.
·         Appointments will be carefully scheduled; never assume that they can be changed at the last minute. Again, spontaneity is not considered desirable in Dutch business culture
·         Give at least one or two weeks' notice for an appointment made by telephone or fax. For appointments made by mail, allow for a full month.
·         Always acknowledge [by mail] when you have received important business letters or documents such as contracts. Other messages can be done by e-mail, if need be.
·         Business letters may be written in English. Maintain a formal tone in all of your correspondence [since the letter might be passed on to other departments]. Even if you are on a first-name basis with the correspondent, it's recommended that you use his or her family name with or without the professional title in your letters.
·         Keep in mind that Dutch executives frequently take extended vacations during July and August, and late December. Consequently, avoid planning a business trip to the Netherlands in the summer or around Christmas, since this is the most popular time for people to go on holiday.
·         In the Netherlands, the decision-making process is slower and more involved than you may be accustomed to in North America.
·         Consensus guides the decision-making process in most Dutch organizations. Moreover, every employee who may be affected will be informed and consulted; understandably, this is a time-consuming process. The Dutch consider the meeting on a particular subject an essential part of the job, not as just a ritual only preceding or even delaying 'real' work.
·         One of the reasons why the Dutch decision-making process appears so democratic is that this culture values diversity in opinion. Allowances are made so that everyone can have their say, but efforts will be made to reach a consensus for all but the more extreme views.
·         You will have to be sensitive to Dutch attempts to have the decision-making in management issues appear egalitarian; to accomplish this, the Dutch company must be open to suggestions from all workers, so that everyone is given access to information. Also, the Dutch are generally uncomfortable with secrets.
·         Since decisions are typically made by a group of people, it's a good policy to learn more about the company's structure and--most importantly-- who will be making the decisions. Don't forget to enquire about the status of the company council [OR], often a quite influential participant even in major management decisions.
·         Once the decision is made, it is may seem unchangeable, but some individuals may attempt to bring about change by saying 'on second thought' and giving relevant arguments.
·         Once a decision has been made on the best procedures, you can be assured that the Dutch organization will quickly get to work and maintain a strong commitment to reaching the objective.
·         Although the decision-making process can be seem exceptionally slow, you can be assured that the Dutch will follow through once a deal is established and the necessary paperwork is completed. They will do what they promised or agreed to do.
·         Do everything you can to avoid giving the impression of superiority or bossiness. Egalitarianism is a central tenet of Dutch society. Everyone in a Dutch company, from the boss to menial laborers, is considered valuable and worthy of respect. Clients are respected, of course, but are not seen as superior beings who can demand just anything.
·         Giving compliments is not a part of Dutch business culture. Since most work is done in groups, there is not as much emphasis on recognizing individual effort. Open competition between workers is frowned upon.
·         When problems occur, blame will sometimes be apportioned on the 'system' or another external force, rather than on one person.
·         When it's necessary for someone to be praised or criticized, the Dutch will do this only in private. Only in rare cases are excellent workers are publicly acclaimed, and then they usually show embarrassment at being singled out.
·         Privacy is of key importance in the Netherlands. Whether at home or in the workplace, doors are kept closed or slightly ajar. Moreover, always knock on a closed door and wait to be admitted in.
·         Family and business life, are kept separate in this culture. When necessary, however, it can be permissible to phone a Dutch colleague at home about business matters. With colleagues one sees every day, details of private life are exchanged. Sensitive issues may be discussed discreetly.

Organizational Structure

·         Flat and egalitarian, managers depend on their subordinates to help in the decision-making process. Decisions are only made after lengthy consultation and consensus, the 'polder' model. Dutch employees are skeptical, and their loyalty and respect has to be earned by their leaders. 

Sensitive issues

·         Do display patience and grace when dealing with the 'polder' model of consensus-forming and discussion. Do not be overly informal or too friendly as the Dutch will be suspicious of this approach. You may drive a bargain, but you must keep your promises. Be informative, informed and well prepared.                       

Negotiation Rules


How to Play it Smart

·         Even if you do not translate your presentation material into Dutch, it's essential that any documents you distribute are clear and concise. Good visuals are another asset. The Dutch are used to high quality brochures and the like.
·         Power Point presentations are the standard, but many people are weary of them, so keep the number of slides down to a minimum. A good verbal presentation is at least as important.
·         Generally, Dutchmen treat women business travelers with considerable respect. However, the position of women in the Dutch labor market is not as progressive as one might expect. Many women have part-time jobs, limiting their chances for upward mobility, so women in high places are fairly rare.
·         Generally, the Dutch will not spend a lot of time socializing before a meeting or other business discussion. Often, as soon as the necessary introductions are made, they will proceed with the business at hand.
·         The Dutch tend to be wary of inflated claims, so use plenty of empirical evidence and other data to persuade them of the merit of your products or ideas. A simple and direct presentation will be appreciated.
·         Sometimes, Dutch companies will conduct background checks on prospective clients.
·         When evaluating the merits of a proposal or making a final decision, very little credence is given to subjective feelings, unless these are considered crucial to consumers as well.
·         This is a society of concrete facts, statistics and other hard data. Data and information are crucial, but do not throw in self-appraisals like 'we're the #1 this or that.' Large is not necessarily felt to be good. Quality usually comes before quantity, unless the price clearly indicates cheaper bulk.
·         Don't make promises lightly. You will be expected to keep every promise you make, no matter how offhand or insignificant it may seem. Moreover, if the Dutch suspect that they cannot trust you, they may very well call off the deal.
·         The Dutch respect qualities such as straightforwardness and honesty. In this culture, bluntness is preferred to deceptiveness or evasiveness. Usually, constructive criticism is felt to be more useful than compliments.
·         Honesty and straightforwardness are an essential part of doing business in the Netherlands. Consequently, when you really want to say 'no', tentative answers such as 'I'll consider it', 'We'll see', or 'perhaps' are not acceptable to the Dutch. Even if you find it difficult to say 'no', you'll find that your Dutch counterparts will prefer and appreciate a candid reply.



Entertaining For Success


When you Entertain


  • A Dutch friend or closer acquaintance may invite you to his or her home for mid-morning coffee on weekend days. Typically, coffee with milk and sugar is served, as well as a biscuit. Another serving of coffee and a biscuit follows; when finished with these, you will be expected to leave, unless the conversation is really lively
  • The Dutch tend to drink a lot of coffee, particularly the stronger blends.
  • Arriving on time to social events is essential in Dutch business culture.
  • In Dutch business culture, all social events have to be carefully scheduled and planned. Generally, the Dutch will not appreciate being invited out at a moment's notice. Outdoor activities are mostly done only with good friends.
  • Dinners--and lunches to a lesser extent-- are popular occasions for Dutch business entertaining. Moreover, these meals tend to be held in restaurants rather than private homes.
  • There is no need to be feeling slighted if you don't get invited out to lunch. The Dutch lunch period is frequently brief and hurried, leaving time for only simple fare such as a sandwich. Most companies have only a simple canteen for all personnel.
·         Because the Dutch usually prefer to host informal gatherings before or after dinner, do not assume an invitation to a Dutch home to mean that you will be eating a meal, especially if the start is at 8 p.m. or later. If there will be a meal, it will probably be mentioned in the invitation. When in doubt, phone your host or hostess to confirm what has been planned.
  • Regardless of the occasion, it's essential that you arrive on time and bring a small, quality gift. Good choices include flowers or a potted plant, a small assortment of chocolates, decorative candles or a book about your home country. Always keep in mind that modest gifts are appreciated; the Dutch tend to frown upon excessive displays.
·         If you know that children will be present, it's recommended that you bring something for them, too, such as candy or a small toy.
·         Since the Dutch tend to value their privacy at home, consider a dinner invitation a rare honor.
  • In the Netherlands, dinner is served relatively early. If you receive an invitation for 6:30 p.m., consider yourself a dinner guest.
  • The host and hostess will usually sit at opposite ends of the table, facing one another. Customarily, the male guest of honor is placed to the right of the host and the female guest of honor is seated to the right of the hostess [seating at the right hand is an honour].
  • At the dinner table, avoid resting your hands in your lap; the best policy is to keep both wrists resting above the table.
  • Wine is commonly served with meals. The host will sometimes propose a toast with the term Proost! which means Cheers! In most cases, however, Proost! is not so much for wine, but more for beer and soft drinks. For wine, people may say the French Santé or nothing at all, since a friendly exchange of glances with all present while slightly raising the glass in their direction is more important. The toast may then be repeated after the company takes the first sip.
  • Always use utensils when eating, even with items that are considered finger foods in North America. Utensils are held throughout the meal, perhaps rested, but not put down. Knives on the right, forks on the left, spoons on the right again.
  • During your stay, you'll probably observe people eating foods such as fruit, cheese, bread, sandwiches, and pizza with a knife and fork if taken at a table. You will be expected to do the same. Rolls, French fries and other small snacks can be finger food.
  • For restaurants, a tip of 5-10% is usually sufficient. All restaurants are legally obliged to include gratuities in the bill. If you were pleased with the service, you may leave an extra tip.
·         When traveling by taxi, round out to the closest euro. Chambermaids should be left 1 to 2 euros per day. When you are given a hand towel by a washroom attendant, be sure to tip the person 50 eurocents




In their Language


In English
In Dutch
Pronunciation

Greeting



Thank you



Sorry



Please



Excuse Me



Welcome



My Name is <your name>



Nice meeting you







About the Country


Japan Today

·         Japan is the land of peace and harmony that continues to evolve in a positive unification of tradition and modernization. With its elaborate and colorful history and culture, Japan has formed a distinct model of hierarchy, honour and etiquette that is still reflected in many social and business practices today.
·         The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw Japan swiftly embrace the numerous influences of western technology. Following the country's defeat in WWII, Japan experienced a remarkable growth in its economy and fast became the world's most successful export. Since then, Japan's business and economy has witnessed a wavering of strengths, however today, Japan is one of the world's leading industrial powers with a new, stable and exciting business market open to foreign investment and trade.
·         The most valued principle still alive in Japanese society today is the concept of 'wa', or 'harmony'. The preservation of social harmony dates back to the first constitution in 604 AD and the teamwork needed when living and working on collective farms. In business terms, 'wa' is reflected in the avoidance of self-assertion and individualism and the preservation of good relationships despite differences in opinion. When doing business with the Japanese it is also important to remember the affect of 'wa' on many patterns of Japanese behavior, in particular their indirect expression of 'no'.
·         One of the fundamental factors of the Japanese social system is the notion of 'face'. Face is a mark of personal pride and forms the basis of an individual's reputation and social status. Preservation of face comes through avoiding confrontations and direct criticism wherever possible. In Japan, causing someone to loose face can be disastrous for business relationships.
·         Closely linked to the concepts of 'wa' and 'kao', 'omoiyari' relates to the sense of empathy and loyalty encouraged in Japanese society and practiced in Japanese business culture. In literal terms it means "to imagine another's feelings", therefore building a strong relationship based on trust and mutual feeling is vital for business success in Japan.


Political Condition

·         Under the Constitution of 1947, Japan adopted a Westminster style bicameral Parliament or Diet. Under the Public Elections Law (revised February 2000) there are 480 seats in the House of Representatives (Lower House) and 242 seats in the House of Councilors (Upper House). Members of both Houses are elected by universal adult suffrage. The Prime Minister is elected by a majority vote in both Houses. If the Houses disagree, the decision of the House of Representatives takes precedence. The Prime Minister is nominally appointed by the Emperor.
·         Members of the House of Representatives are elected for a four-year term, although in practice the House is generally dissolved and elections called before its term is ended. The next House of Representatives election is due to be held by November 2007. Members of the House of Councilors are elected for a six-year term, with half the members having to stand for election every three years. The most recent House of Councilors election occurred in July 2004.
·         The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has held power in Japan for almost the entire period since the Party's formation in 1955, with the LDP President usually being installed as Prime Minister by the Diet. Cabinets are formed in the first instance following the election of a new Prime Minister and after each election of the House of Representatives. Factional politics have previously ensured that Cabinet posts have been reshuffled frequently. Cabinet appointments may be filled from outside the Diet (i.e. non-parliamentarians) and in the current Koizumi Cabinet there are two non-parliamentarian Cabinet appointees.
·         Prime Minister Koizumi has had significant successes on the security front, with the passage of National Emergencies legislation and legislation enabling the Self Defence Force to support reconstruction in non-combat areas in Iraq.  The dispatch of Air SDF troops to Iraq in December 2003 was followed by the dispatch of Ground SDF troops in February 2004.  On 9 February, the Diet passed a bill, widely regarded as targeting North Korea, that will allow Japan to unilaterally impose trade and economic sanctions against other countries.



IT Market


·         Japan is the second largest market in the world for information technology products and service after the U.S. What is more, the Japanese IT industry has grown remarkably over the last decade despite an overall stagnant Japanese economy. Personal computers and PC peripherals have been key drivers of this phenomenon and now comprise one of the largest industries in the Japanese economy.
·         IDC Japan estimates that the market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.4 percent to reach US$66 billion in 2006. The major areas of growth include processing services, system integration services, information system (IS) outsourcing, hardware support and installation and software support and installation -- with IS outsourcing showing the most promise, according to IDC. Outsourcing of IT management has become popular given the scarcity of skilled IT staff, complexity of using multiple vendors and platforms, and frequency of system upgrades, as well a general interest by companies to focus on their core competencies.
·         In addition to IS outsourcing, services such as application outsourcing, and network infrastructure management services, including application service provider (ASP) services, are expected to be high-growth markets. Although growth in ASP market has not been as pronounced as once thought, given cost-cutting in IT and other factors, Gartner still predicts that the ASP market in Japan will enjoy an average annual growth rate of 46.2 percent to reach US$2.1 billion by 2006. Changes in business processes and growth of XML architecture should help ASPs provide customer-friendly applications and business services.
·         Japan's rapid broadband growth should fuel demand for other services as well, namely in network security and web-based streaming services. In the case of network security, fear of pernicious computer viruses and "cyber crime" are driving not just businesses but also personal computer users to be security-conscious. As a result, security software and corresponding network consulting integration services should be in high demand for years to come.
·         As for web-based services, broadband makes it easier and more convenient to access digital content, and thus the market for services like online gaming, music, video and other streaming media has great potential for growth. The size of the digital content market in Japan is currently about US$10 billion, but this is expected to reach $55 billion in 2006. In addition, the market for E-learning software and services also looks promising, and is expected to reach US$10 billion in 2006.



People of Japan


The Japanese

·         The Japanese are methodical and meticulous in their approach to most situations in both social and business situations.  They tend to enjoy following procedures and are not known for their flexibility in bending rules.
·         As in may other Asian countries, "saving face" and maintaining dignity is absolutely critical in every situation.
·         When referring to another person, the Japanese add the suffix "san" to the end of a person's family name.  It is the English equivalent of Mr. or Mrs.
·         The Japanese will be impressed if you have taken the time to learn a couple of Japanese phrases.
·         The Japanese view bowing as an art form.  Care and attention to given to the correct angle and style of bow.  The more junior person always bows first and with a greater depth and angle. 
Harmony is the key value in Japanese Society
·         Harmony is the guiding philosophy for the Japanese in family and business settings and in society as a whole.
·         Japanese children are taught to act harmoniously and cooperatively with others from the time they go to pre-school.
·         The Japanese educational system emphasizes the interdependence of all people, and Japanese children are not raised to be independent but rather to work together.
·         This need for harmonious relationships between people is reflected in much Japanese behavior.
·         They place great emphasis on politeness, personal responsibility and working together for the universal, rather than the individual, good.
·         They present facts that might be disagreeable in a gentle and indirect fashion.
·         They see working in harmony as the crucial ingredient for working productively.

Culture and Practices

Gift Giving

·         When invited to a Japanese home, be it that of a friend or an official home stay, it is customary to bring a gift, or omiyage. We suggest bringing some small trinkets, like key chains or baseball caps, from home for this purpose. Gift-giving plays an important role in Japanese culture, so make sure you have something on hand in case you receive an unexpected gift and want to reciprocate. It's also customary to bring back souvenirs for friends and colleagues when you go out of town. The gift should be between two and five dollars in value, and make sure it's from the region you visited—your friends will notice if it's not!
Bowing
·         The bow is firmly embedded in Japanese culture. You will become used to it after only a short time in Japan. The Japanese bow when they meet and part from one another (when Westerners would use a handshake), to express gratitude, to show deference to superiors, and in many other social situations. The type of bow depends on the relationship and social or professional ranking of the people involved. As a foreigner and newcomer to Japanese culture, you will be exempt from strict bowing etiquette, but the more you assimilate the better.
·         The depth of the bow depends on the recipient's rank, status. When bowing to an individual who is of higher status than you, bow a little lower than that person to display deference. Do the same if you are uncertain of the status of the person that you are facing. With a person of your equivalent status, bow at the same height.
·         The bow is an important part of Japanese business protocol. Bows are used for expressing appreciation, making apologies and requests, as well as for greetings and farewells. Bows convey both respect and humility.
Removing Shoes
·         You will be expected to remove your shoes upon entering many Japanese buildings, including homes and even some English schools. The reason is more practical than traditional, since it helps to keep the inside clean. You may be provided with slippers, but they must not leave the house and they must be removed before walking on tatami mats. Be sure that you are wearing presentable socks!
Eating and Drinking
·         You will catch on quickly to the subtleties involved with eating and drinking in Japan. If you have never used chopsticks, start practicing immediately. Using chopsticks is fairly straightforward. Remember that upon finishing your meal, you must place your chopsticks across your dish or on the side, and never place your chopsticks in your bowl or standing up in your rice. This is done only at funerals, so to do it at any other time is considered disrespectful.
·         If you go out for drinks with friends or colleagues, you will notice that each person takes turns filling the other's glass. It is considered rude to fill your own glass except when you are among good friends. You might also notice that your glass will be continuously filled even if you say "no, thank you." Leave your glass full once you have had enough to drink. It's customary to split the bill evenly among everyone at the table, no matter how much you've had to drink or eat.
·         Before eating or drinking, it is customary to say "Itadakimasu." This term, roughly translated, means "good eating to you, I am starting to eat." It is considered rude to start a meal without saying "Itadakimasu."



Suitable Attire


What you should wear

·         In Japanese business culture, men traditionally wore conservative suits, typically in blue or gray, with a white shirt and dark tie. Suits are still conservative in medium-sized and larger Japanese companies and government offices, but pastel shirts are now common.
·         Pastel shirts, and some even more colorful versions, are rapidly becoming common in Japan's business world. The foreign businessman in Japan can wear whatever shirt he usually wears...without any negative impact.
·         You may be expected to take your shoes off in temples and homes, as well as in some ryokan [inn] style restaurants. Consequently, it’s a good idea to wear slip-on shoes, since they can be taken off easily. Since your socks will be seen more than usual, ensure that you pack a supply of clean, conservative socks.
·         Business women should dress conservatively and use jewellery, perfume, and makeup only sparingly.
·         It is now common for many Japanese women to wear slacks, pant suits and high heels at work, depending on the kind of work they do. In factories, they generally wear uniforms. Office workers in many companies dress very much like female employees in Western countries. Some old-line companies continue to dictate a conservative style.
·         Summers in low lying areas of Japan are hot and humid. It's a good idea to pack several changes of clothes, as this culture places an emphasis on maintaining a clean, neat appearance.
·         Business meetings are sometimes held in inns [“ryokans”], where you may be expected to wear a yukata robe to dinner. The inn provides the yukata.
·         Wrap a yukta [or kimono] left over right. Only corpses wear a kimono wrapped right over left.

What you should not wear

·         Business attire is conservative.
·         Men should not wear bright-colored, fashionable business suits.
·         Women should not dress highly fashionable.


Communication


How do they communicate

  • You may be asked extremely personal questions regarding your salary, education, and family life. If you don't want to answer, remain polite but try to gracefully side step the question.
  • Sometimes, you'll find it necessary to pretend that your Japanese colleague understood you. In Japanese business protocol, these “face-saving” measures are essential for maintaining cordial relations.
  • It’s a good policy to refrain from discussing business until the first few minutes of any conversation, unless your Japanese companion says “Jitsu wa ne...” [“the fact of the matter is...”]
  • It is considered polite to frequently say “I’m sorry.” For example, the Japanese will apologize for not being punctual enough, having a cold, taking you to see a disappointing movie, providing substandard hospitality [even if it was perfectly good], displaying rudeness at a previous meeting [even if they were not rude], and practically any other personal flaw. Visitors are encouraged to incorporate these kinds of remarks into their conversation.
  • Exercise caution when asking the Japanese certain questions. For example, English speakers would give a negative answer to the question “Isn't the document available?” by responding “no.” The intended meaning is “No, the document is not available.” The Japanese interpretation is different. The answer would be “yes” meaning, “Yes, the document is not available.”
  • If the response to your question is “maybe”, “probably”, or “I'm thinking about it”, the answer is likely to be “yes.” “I'll consider it”, however, is often indicative of a “no.”
  • Don't make accusations or direct refusals. In your dealings with Japanese business culture, remain indirect.
  • In the course of a conversation, use as many Japanese sentences as you can.
  • You may have to ask a question several times, in different ways, to receive a definite response or commitment.
  • When beginning a dialogue with a group, it is polite to direct all of your first remarks to the most senior member [if you know who he or she is], and then to appropriate individuals.

Topics of Conversation

  • Inquiring about a person’s family [a good conversation starter]
  • Praising the hospitality you’re receiving
  • Japanese history
  • Japanese artistic achievements
  • Positive comments about the Japanese economy
  • Sports, such as golf and ski jumping


Topics to Avoid

  • World War II
  • Making jokes [unless they are very easy to understand, self-deprecating, and made in a social-- rather than business--setting]




Doing Business in Japan


Office Hours

·         In Japanese business culture, the working week consists of 48 hours without overtime pay, completed in five and a half days. Larger firms have initiated a five-day week.
·         Generally, office hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 or 5:30 p.m. Many people work longer hours, though.
·         During holidays, banks and offices close, but stores remain open.

National Holidays

·         During three weeks of the year [New Year's holidays, December 28 to January 3; Golden Week, April 29 to May 5; and Obon, mid-August], many Japanese visit the graves of their ancestors. Avoid scheduling appointments, business trips during these periods.


Business Card Etiquette

·         In Japan, every business relationship begins with an exchange of business cards, or meishi. As soon as you know your permanent address, have some business cards printed, preferably with English on one side and Japanese on the other. Expect to receive many business cards during your stay in Japan. You should receive a business card with both hands and bow subtly, yet graciously. Read the card with great interest, perhaps commenting on a particular character, or kanji. Simply taking the card and putting it in your pocket or wallet is considered rude.
·         Business cards ["meishi"] are an important part of doing business in Japan and key for establishing credentials. Bring a plentiful supply, since your Japanese counterparts will be keen to exchange them.
·         One side of your card should be in English, and the reverse in Japanese. It is an asset to include information such as membership in professional associations. When designing your card, keep in mind that Japanese businesspeople will want to learn as much about your background and qualifications as possible.
·         Cards are presented after the bow or handshake. Present your card with the Japanese side facing up.
·         People of high rank often have their business cards presented by subordinates.
·         When you receive another person's card, make a show of carefully examining it for a few moments and then remarking upon it. This is also a good time to ask for help if there is anything on the card you have difficulty pronouncing or understanding.
·         After you have received, examined, and remarked upon your card, it should be placed in your card case or on a nearby table. Accepting a business card and then stuffing it into your back pocket is considered disrespectful. Writing on a business card is also perceived negatively.


Basic Work Culture

·         If want to make an appointment, but don't have a connection, a personal call will be more effective than sending a letter. Moreover, a letter requesting an appointment might go unanswered.
·         Punctuality is necessary when doing business here; the Japanese believe it is rude to be late.
·         First names are usually reserved for family and close friends. Consequently, wait to be invited before presuming to use first names.
·         Don't invite others to call you by your first name until you have met several times and know each other well.
·         Even if you are on a first name basis with a Japanese colleague, it is appropriate to use his or her last name in the presence of colleagues, to avoid causing any embarrassment.
·         Be sure to use courtesy titles such as "Mr.", "Ms.", or the suffix "san", in addition to last names.
·         "San", an honorific attached to a person's last name, is not to be used when referring to your spouse or children. Also, it is not used to refer to someone in your company when talking with someone outside it. This is because it is considered bad manners to elevate people of your own group when speaking with "outsiders." Otherwise, "san" can be used when addressing men or women, married or single.
·         The Japanese often use professional titles in the place of actual names, as an acknowledgment of a person's status.
·         When speaking in English, you may use "Mr." or "Ms." instead of "san" when addressing Japanese colleagues or referring to someone else. Again, you should never refer to yourself as "Mr. Jones," for example. Adding an honorific to your own name is a no-no.
·         Connections are very helpful in this country, but choose your intermediaries carefully: the Japanese will feel obliged to be loyal to them. Select someone of the same rank as the person with whom he or she will have dealings. Moreover, an intermediary should not be part of either company involved with the deal.
·         If you know a highly respected, important person in Japan, use his or her endorsement and connection. Before you enter into negotiations, request a consultation, and then ask if you can use the endorsement and connection to further your business efforts. This method of using connections is standard practice among Japanese businesspeople.
·         The Japanese are encouraged to develop an intense loyalty to their respective groups. Moreover, one's identity is subsumed into the group.
·         Generally, the Japanese are not receptive to "outside" information. They will consider new ideas and concepts only within the confines of their own groups.
·         The Japanese tend to think subjectively, relying on feelings rather than empirical evidence.
·         Getting acquainted is the purpose of the initial meetings. You may, however, introduce your proposal during these preliminary discussions.
·         It's a good policy to refrain from discussing business until the first 15 minutes of any conversation, unless your Japanese companion says "Jitsu wa ne" ["the fact of the matter is"]
·         Be especially respectful to your older Japanese counterparts--age equals rank in Japanese business culture.
·         Using a Japanese lawyer, rather than a Western one, will be perceived as a gesture of good will and co-operation.
·         In Japan, there are a wide range of companies: some retain very traditional views, while others are making an effort to be more accommodating to women. Be prepared to adapt to each new situation. As a woman, you will have to work harder and be exceedingly more dedicated and flexible. But, if you succeed in establishing solid relationships, you may possibly achieve success surpassing what you could accomplish in your own country.
·         You may find that some Japanese men who have not been abroad are not used to dealing with women as equals in a business setting. If you are a woman, reacting with indignation to the traditional attitudes you may encounter is not productive. Instead, the best way to overcome these obstacles is to make a concentrated effort to demonstrate your skills and professional competence; these qualities are respected whether you are male or female. Moreover, learning as much as you can about every relevant issue, as well as Japanese language and culture, can also help you in gaining acceptance.
·         If you are a female business traveler, ensure that your Japanese colleagues are informed of your status as early as possible; otherwise, they may assume that you are playing only a supportive role. Try to have a male colleague introduce you with your qualifications. Moreover, whenever you are introduced, repeat your name and title.
·         Even after Japanese colleagues become accustomed to a female business traveler's professional contribution, interacting with her in social situations may present another challenge. Keep in mind that Japanese men are sometimes unaccustomed to socializing with women on an equal business level. Moreover, if a woman appears overly confident, aggressive or extroverted, she may find herself in even more of a difficult position. For a woman, the best policy is to maintain a restrained, dignified manner.
·         Maintain a quiet, low-key, and polite manner at all times.
·         A bow, “ojigi” [oh-jee-ghee], can be a way of greeting someone, acknowledging a person, expressing thanks, saying “I’m sorry” or even asking for a favor.
·         The Japanese will shake hands with Westerners as a way of making others feel comfortable. In turn, it’s an asset for Westerners to bow, to demonstrate that they are taking the initiative to learn Japanese customs. This simple gesture can do a lot to help a businessperson in establishing rapport with a potential Japanese client.
·         Meanings will be read into even the slightest gestures. Consequently, avoid displaying unusual facial expressions and motioning in ways that are remotely dramatic or expansive.
·         The American “O.K.” sign (thumb and forefinger shaped into an “O”) actually means “money” in Japan.
·         Be aware that many popular North American gestures may be greeted only with incomprehension here (i.e., shrugging the shoulders, winking the eye).
·         Instead of pointing, which is considered rude, wave your hand with the palm facing up.
·         To indicate a negative response in informal situations, move the open hand, with the palm facing left, in a fanning motion.
·         It is no longer acceptable in Japan to spit, snort, and sniff in public--although lower class men may do so.
·         Blowing one's nose in public is also regarded as impolite. When this action is necessary, use a disposable tissue and then throw it out immediately. Generally speaking, the Japanese find the idea of actually keeping a used handkerchief or tissue disgusting.
·         Laughter may indicate embarrassment or distress, rather than amusement.
·         Smiling is a popular gesture here. It is often used, however, for self-control, particularly in masking displeasure.
·         Scratching the head is another gesture used to disguise confusion and embarrassment.
·         When the Japanese want to give the impression that they are in deep thought, they will sometimes fold their arms. Try not to interpret this as a gesture of hostility.
·         Direct eye contact is now as common in Japan as it is in the U.S. and other Western countries.
·         You may experience some pushing and shoving when in crowds of commuters getting on and off of trains and subways. A popular “excuse me” gesture involves bowing slightly and holding an open hand in front of you [as if clearing a passage]. You don't really chop; you just hold your hand up, and may wave it slightly.
·         Touching in public between males and females, once frowned upon, is now common, not only among young couples but also among young men out on the town and older men drinking in bars and cabarets.
·         In Japanese business culture, men don't engage in backslapping; but, again, it is common in drinking situations after hours.


Organizational Structure

·         The strong hierarchical structure in Japanese business is reflected in the negotiation process. They begin at the executive level and continue at the middle level. However, decisions will often be made within the group.
·         Generally speaking, in business meetings the Japanese will line up in order of seniority, with the most senior person at the front and the least senior person closest to the door. In addition to this rule however, you may find that the most senior person chooses where to sit.
·         It is important to bear in mind that in contemporary Japan, even a low ranking individual can become a manager if his or her performance is good.


Sensitive issues

·         The Japanese place a very high importance on personal interactions and spend a great deal of their time building relationships and developing trust.
·         Avoid scheduling meetings during the three main holiday periods and adjacent weekends, such as year's end and the New Year, Golden Week (end of April and early May) and the Obon Festival (mid-August).
·         Punctuality is important in Japan; therefore, be sure to take heavy traffic into account when scheduling appointments.
·         Avoid appearing rash and hard in your attitude, speech, or mannerisms.  The Japanese do not respond well to aggressive manners.
·         The Japanese are generally non confrontational and prefer to establish unanimous consensus when making decisions.
·         The Japanese often avoid sustained eye contact.  Junior people are less likely to make eye contact and will keep their visual focus low and their heads slightly bowed down out of respect for the speaker.
·         Most Japanese are not accustomed to dealing with women in business situations.  If you are a foreign woman, the Japanese may find it difficult to socialize with you on a business level.  Do not take it personally



Negotiation Rules


How to Play it Smart

·         Negotiations begin at the executive level and continue at the middle-level.
·         "Saving face" is an important concept to understand. In Japanese business culture, a person's reputation and social standing rests on this concept. When a person loses his or her composure or otherwise causes embarrassment, even unintentionally ["losing face"], this can be disastrous for business negotiations.
·         Don't make accusations or direct refusals. In your dealings with Japanese business culture, remain indirect.
·         Negotiations generally have an atmosphere of grave seriousness. However, light conversation as well as light humor is common before meetings and during breaks. Western style jokes should be avoided.
·         During presentations, and especially during negotiations, it is essential that one maintain a quiet, low-key, and polite manner at all times.
·         The highest-ranking individual may appear to be the quietest of everyone present.
·         For a persuasive presentation, you must describe how your product can enhance the prosperity and reputation of the Japanese side. Making these claims effectively requires a thorough knowledge of Japanese economy, business, and product lines.
·         It is also a good strategy to emphasize the size and wealth of your company. If your organization is an older, venerable institution, this fact should be frequently mentioned, too.
·         Do not show anger, a bad mood or other negative emotions to your business counterparts. Follow the Japanese example, and mask these feelings with a smile.
·         Practically anything you say will be taken literally. Refrain from making remarks such as “This is killing me!” or, “You’re kidding!”
·         Sometimes, you'll find it necessary to pretend that your Japanese colleague understood you. In Japanese business protocol, these face-saving measures are essential for maintaining cordial relations.
·         If it is necessary to discuss bad news, use an intermediary, such as the one who introduced you to the company.
·         Outbursts of laughter are not always indicative of mirth in this culture. Laughter is also used to mask feelings such as nervousness, shock, embarrassment, confusion, and disapproval.
·         Periods of silence lasting between 10-15 seconds during meetings and conversations are considered useful rather than uncomfortable.
·         You may find that your Japanese counterparts will not be specific about what they expect from you.
·         Never single out a Japanese colleague, even for praise or encouragement; the group identity always prevails.
·         Convening among themselves, the Japanese will go over your proposal in painstaking detail. Often, they will review every sentence you uttered in the course of the discussion until they are satisfied they have understood your exact meaning.
·         Don't feel discouraged if you're not receiving compliments on your work. Again, it is the group that receives accolades, not the individual.
·         Because age equals rank, show the greatest respect to the oldest members on the Japanese side.
·         When the Japanese are trying to listen carefully to what is being said, they sometimes appear to be sleeping with their eyes closed.
·         Decisions are made only within the group. Outsiders must gain acceptance from the group before they can have influence of any kind in the decision-making process.
·         Because the decision-making process is so deeply entrenched in the group, don't push for an answer. Instead, wait patiently until everyone reaches a consensus.
·         The decision-making process can be very slow, sometimes taking as long as one to three years.
·         Generally, the Japanese prefer oral agreements to written ones, and should not be pressured into signing documents.
·         The Japanese will commit themselves to an oral agreement, which may be acknowledged by a nod or slight bow, rather than by shaking hands.
·         Contracts can be renegotiated; in Japanese business protocol, they are not final agreements.





Entertaining For Success


When you Entertain


·         An invitation to lunch or dinner is important in Japan. Businesspeople are not likely to accept invitations from people they do not trust.
·         When you are taken out, the host always pays, in accordance with Japanese business protocol.
·         It is sometimes acceptable to be late for social occasions. When in doubt, however, arrive on time.
·         In a traditional Japanese style restaurant, your host will generally order for you...but if you are familiar with Japanese dishes, it is perfectly acceptable for you to let the host know what you like. Expressing thanks to your host after a meal is an important part of the ritual.
·         When taking a Japanese businessperson to lunch, it’s best to select a restaurant of your own culture, if possible. Introducing one’s culture, and talking about it during the meal, is often an effective way of establishing rapport and a personal relationship. Then, it is likely that your guest will invite you to a Japanese restaurant and explain to you some aspects of Japanese culture. People who focus only on work-related matters will find that they cannot make friends or successfully conduct business in Japan.
·         During meals, use as many Japanese sentences as you can. Bow often, when appropriate.
·         In Japanese business culture, bars are popular venues for business entertaining, particularly “karaoke” bars where patrons are encouraged to sing along to taped popular songs. Plan on staying out until the early hours of the morning.
If you are invited out to a karaoke bar, you will be expected to sing along. It doesn’t matter if you can’t carry a tune, but remaining gracious and co-operative is essential.
·         Women guests are not welcome at geisha houses and Sumo wrestling rings.
·         If you would like to propose a toast, the standard term is “Kampai” (kahm-pie), which is the equivalent of “Cheers.” Then, your companions will repeat your toast and clink glasses before taking a sip of sake, whiskey or beer. Traditionally, the host takes the first sip.
·         If a toast is proposed to you, ensure that you reciprocate with a toast of your own.
·         If you are invited to a Japanese home, consider it a rare honor and express sincere appreciation to your hosts.
·         You may be expected to take your shoes off in temples and homes, as well as in some traditional style Japanese inn restaurants. Consequently, it’s a good idea to wear slip-on shoes, since they can be taken off easily. Since your socks will be seen more than usual, ensure that you pack a supply of clean, conservative socks.
·         When invited to a Japanese home, you will be expected to remove your shoes and wear the slippers that are provided.
·         When invited to a dinner party in a home, you may be expected sit cross-legged or with your legs to the side, around a low table with the family. Additionally, a backrest may be offered. Although meals tend to be long, an evening in a home usually ends relatively early, around 11:00 p.m.
·         Customarily, the highest-ranking person hosting a meal sits at the center of the table. The most important guest will be seated to the host’s immediate right. The “least” important guest will be seated near the entrance or door.
·         Customarily, the host is the first to begin eating. Afterwards, the guests may proceed with the meal.
·         A standard Japanese meal consists of a staple such as grilled fish, along with a bowl of rice, a cup of soup, and a small dish containing pickles.
·         Japanese cuisine includes delicacies such as inoshishi (wild boar) sakura-nabe (horse meat), shika-no-shashimi (raw deer meat), suzume (sparrow), and uzura (quail).
·         Many dishes will be served in the course of a dinner party, and you are encouraged to sample everything. If there is something that you absolutely do not want to eat, you will have to make a plausible excuse. For example, insisting that health reasons prevent you from trying a food item can allow everyone to “save face.”
·         Avoid pointing your chopsticks at another person. When your chopsticks are not in use, place them on the provided chopstick rest. Moreover, do not place chopsticks straight up in your rice bowl.
·         Slurping your noodles and tea is encouraged here.
·         Bones should be placed on the side of your plate.
·         Use both hands to hold a bowl or cup that you wish to be refilled.
·         When you are a guest, wait for another person to replenish your beverage. If you don’t want anymore to drink, leave the glass or cup partially full or turn it upside down, otherwise, you will get a “refill.” If you are a hosting a meal, you are usually expected to refill the beverages for the first round or two.
·         When finishing a meal, leave a small portion of food on your plate to indicate that the meal was satisfying.
·         When tea is served, it is usually a signal that the meal is ending.
·         If you think that it's necessary to reciprocate your hosts, choose a restaurant of your own culture, if possible. Remain insistent about your invitation, as your hosts may first decline so that it does not seem that they are imposing on you.
·         Since there is an automatic service charge in restaurant bills, tipping is usually unnecessary. Tipping is not required for most other services, but if you stay at a country inn (“ryokan”), you may give your maid a 5% tip.
·         You're likely to find that taxi drivers seldom speak English. One way of overcoming this problem is to have your host or an employee from your hotel write your destination in Japanese so that you can show it to the driver. Also, keep a hotel card in Japanese with you so that the driver can ensure your return.


Business Culture In Malaysia
This Section contains information on everything a sales person needs to know while dealing with the people of Malaysia under the following categories, click on link to read the related news/information items.
This section contains latest information and news related to Malaysia, its basic need-to-know history, political settings and their IT Market condition.
o    Malaysia Today
o    IT Market
This section contains latest information and news related to the people of Malaysia, their culture and practices.
This section contains details how to dress effectively while dealing with the Malaysian.
o    Topics to Avoid
This section contains information on how the people of Malaysia communicate and how we should reciprocate.
o    Office Hours
This section contains information on doing business in Malaysia, their office hours, when they stay at home, their business etiquette, and other issues.
This section contains information on how to play their negotiation game.


This section contains information on how to entertain the people and what they expect.
o    English Word
o    Translation
o    Pronunciation
This section contains a few basic words in their dialect.

















About the Country


Malaysia Today

·         Located just north of the equator, Malaysia borders Thailand, Indonesian Kalimantan and Brunei, and has sea boundaries with Indonesian Sumatra (Straits of Melaka), Singapore (Straits of Johor) and, in the South China Sea, the Philippines and the Spratly Islands. Malaysia's climate is hot (up to 34°C) and humid (2 to 4 metres of rain annually). Consequently, Malaysian plant and animal life is rich and varied.
·         Malaysia is a high middle-income, export-oriented economy. Over the past 25 years, it has developed rapidly from an agriculture-based economy to one dominated by intermediate manufacturing. Manufactured goods now account for the majority of Malaysia's exports, of which about 70 per cent are electrical and electronic products. Chemical and wood products make up the bulk of the remaining manufactured exports. Malaysia is the world's leading exporter of palm oil and is also one of the major regional oil and gas exporting countries.
·         Careful economic planning and management has enabled Malaysia to weather the impact of several external shocks, most notably the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The Malaysian economy grew by an impressive 7.1 per cent in 2004-05 (real GDP), the fastest in four years and in line with expectations. Growth was underpinned by private consumption and inventory growth.
·         A more diversified manufacturing base partly offset the slowdown in electronic equipment production. The services sector continued to remain firm. Primary commodities grew strongly, supported by higher palm oil and natural gas production. The construction sector remained weak due mainly to lower civil engineering activity, but is likely to rebound following an additional 8.5 billion ringgit (A$3.2 billion) allocation by the government for development projects.
·         Exports and imports continued to expand, recording an increase of 16 and 20 per cent respectively in 2004-05. Export growth was supported by growth in manufacturing and mineral fuels exports. Import growth was underpinned by strong growth in capital goods imports, which were used for upgrading technology and capacity expansion, and consumption goods.


Political Condition

·         Malaysia is a parliamentary democracy. It has a federal constitutional monarch with a bicameral federal legislature and unicameral state legislatures.
·         Nine of the 13 states have hereditary rulers (eight Sultans and one Rajah) who share the position of King (Agong) on a five-year rotating basis. The King's functions are purely ceremonial since constitutional amendments in 1993 and 1994. Malaysia's 13 States are: Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Pulau Pinang, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Terengganu. There are also three Federal Territories: Labuan, Putrajaya and Wilayah Persekutuan - the capital, Kuala Lumpur, is located in the territory of Wilayah Persekutuan.
·         The Federation of Malaya became an independent country on 31 August 1957. On 16 September 1963 the Federation was enlarged by the accession of the states of Singapore, Sabah (formerly British North Borneo) and Sarawak. The name 'Malaysia' was adopted from that date. Singapore left the Federation on 9 August 1965.
·         The governing Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition comprises the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), Gerakan - a Chinese-based party, and the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), plus a number of other parties including some based in Sabah and Sarawak. This coalition, in which UMNO is the dominant voice, has been in power in one form or another since the first elected government in 1955.
·         On 31 October 2003, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad resigned after 22 years in office. His successor, Abdullah Badawi, led the Barisan Nasional to electoral victory at the 21 March 2004 general election, winning 199 of the 219 Federal seats (90 per cent), representing the highest-ever proportion of seats in Federal Parliament. The largest number of opposition seats were won by the secular DAP (mainly ethnic Malaysian Chinese) and it replaced Islam-oriented PAS, which won seven seats, as the major opposition party. The next general election is scheduled for 2009.
·         Malaysia assumed the chair of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) at the 10th Summit in Kuala Lumpur in October 2003 and assumed the chair of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) at its 13th Summit in February 2003. It will hold both these positions until 2006 and will assume the Chair of ASEAN later in 2005.
                                      

IT Market

·         IDC forecasts that the ICT market in Malaysia will reach US$4.2 billion with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18% from 2001 to 2006. To achieve this, the government and the private sector are continuously championing the adoption and investment of ICT.  Internet use is expected to surpass voice traffic and may exceed eight-fold by 2006. The potential revenues arising from business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce activities in Malaysia are set to increase by almost nine-fold from USD 1.5 billion in 2002 to USD 9.4 billion by 2005 with B2Bmaking the biggest strides.






People of Malaysia


The Malaysian

·         When meeting a Malay, you may be extended a hand for shaking; sometimes, the person may choose to greet you with a cultural Malay greeting called a "namaste." This gesture involves touching both palms at heart level and making a slight bow. Sometimes the "namaste" will occur after an initial handshake. You can respond in turn by putting your right hand on your heart after shaking hands.
·         When you are being introduced to a Malaysian woman, be sure to shake hands with her only if she has extended her hand. If she does not extend her hand, a smile and a nod will be the gesture you should use to greet her.
·         When introducing a man and a woman, the female's name should be said first.
·         Just as in most other countries, when presenting a higher-ranking person to a more junior person, the senior person's name is said first.

Culture and Practices

·         Face – A vital element of Malaysian culture, as with most Asian cultures, is the concept of face. In Malaysian society to "lose face", that is to lose control of one's emotions or to show embarrassment in public, is perceived as a negative display of behavior. Malaysians will use a number of methods in order to "save face". Laughter, for instance, is often used to mask one's true feelings and can reveal numerous emotions including nervousness, shyness or disapproval. Saving face is particularly crucial in business contexts as causing your Malaysian counterpart to lose face may influence the outcome of your future business dealings.
·         High context culture – In high context cultures such as Malaysia meaning is often more explicit and less direct than in many Western cultures. This means that words are less important and greater attention must be given to additional forms of communication such as voice tone, body language, eye-contact and facial expressions. In Malaysia, because business is personal and based on trust, developing relationships rather than exchanging facts and information is the main objective of communication. This also relates to the Malay cultural values of courtesy, tolerance, harmony and face. Direct answers, particularly negative ones, are avoided in order to prevent disagreement and preserve harmony; two very important aspects of Malaysian culture.

Fatalism – Malaysian culture is centered on the diverse religious values of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam and as such relies heavily on the concept of fatalism. Fatalism is the belief that success, failures, opportunities and misfortunes result from fate or the will of God. In a business context, when formulating ideas and making decisions Malays, who are predominantly Muslim, will tend not to rely on empirical evidence or hard facts, but prefer to be guided by subjective feelings combined with the Islamic faith. Your Chinese and Indian colleagues will also take a similar approach since feelings and emotions play a significant part in their business culture. Consequently, negotiations may take longer than expected and your Malaysian counterparts will view decision making in a more personal light.
                                                Working practices in Malaysia
·         When scheduling business meetings in Malaysia one must take into consideration the importance of prayer times in this predominantly Muslim country. Fridays are a particularly religious day of the week and if possible meetings should not be scheduled for this time.
·         Attitude to punctuality varies according to which nationality you are doing business with. The Chinese for example expect punctuality, whereas both ethnic Malays and Indian business people have a more relaxed attitude towards time. As a general rule, you will be expected to be punctual; therefore it is advised to arrive to business appointments on time.
·         If your business in Malaysia requires interaction with Malaysian government officials, ensure that all communication takes place in the language of Bahasa Malaysia. The majority of transactions and correspondence with Malaysian companies however, will generally be conducted in English.


Suitable Attire


What you should wear

·         Malaysia is incredibly hot and humid throughout the year. The temperature ranges from 75-95 F and humidity between 60 and 70%
·         The monsoon season runs from September through December, but sudden showers occur all year long. Many people carry an umbrella every day.
·         Because of the heat and humidity, business dress in Malaysia is often casual. Standard formal office wear for men is dark trousers and a light-colored long-sleeved shirt and tie, without a jacket. Many businessmen wear a short-sleeved shirt with no tie. The safest option for a male business traveler is to wear a suit jacket and tie, and remove them if it seems appropriate.
·         Standard business attire for women includes dresses and light-colored, long-sleeved blouses and skirts. Stockings and business suits are reserved for very formal offices. Pantsuits or slacks may be inappropriate in some Malaysian offices. 
·         Women must be sensitive to Muslim and Hindu beliefs, and, consequently, wear blouses that cover at least their upper arms. Skirts should be knee-length or longer.
·         In Malaysia, clothing styles for businesswomen tend to be frilly and ornamental.
·         Many Malaysian men wear an open-necked batik shirt to the office; these garments are also popular for casual wear.
·         Jeans are acceptable casual wear.
·         Regardless of what you choose to wear, make the effort to maintain a clean, well-groomed appearance. Moreover, bathe several times a day if necessary.


What you should not wear

·         Because Malaysia is very hot all year long, cotton and linen clothes are the most sensible choices. Regardless, be sure to pack light weight fabrics.
·         Avoid wearing yellow because it is the color reserved for Malaysian royalty.
·         As a foreigner, you should dress more conservatively until you are sure certain of the degree of formality expected.
·         Shorts should be avoided.


Communication


How do they communicate

·         Be aware that in Malaysia, it's perfectly acceptable to ask people questions about their weight, income, marital status, and related subjects. Moreover, you may even be subjected to these questions!
·         If you don't wish to answer personal inquiries, side-step these questions as graciously as possible. Regardless, do not express annoyance, outrage, or similar feelings that will cause the questioner to "lose face."
·         When greeting a Malaysian in the morning, the term to use is "Salamat pagi." In the afternoon, the appropriate term is "Salamat petang."
·         Keep your hands out of your pockets when in public.
·         When exiting a room, say "Excuse me" and add a slight bow.
·         When you must indicate something or someone, use the entire right hand [palm out]. You can also point with your right thumb, as long as all four fingers are curled down. Make sure all your fingers are curled; older Malays would interpret a fist with the thumb and a little finger is an insult.
·         To beckon someone, hold your hand out, palm downward, and make a scooping motion with the fingers. Beckoning someone with the palm up and wagging one finger, however, will often be interpreted as an insult.


Topics of Conversation

·         Your Malaysian host's family and heritage
·         business
·         sports, especially soccer
·         art
·         travel
·         plans for the future
·         success of the group or organization
·          praising the local cuisine


Topics to Avoid

·         criticizing any aspect of Malaysian culture
·         comparing life in Malaysia to life in the West
·         politics
·         bureaucracy
·         ethnic relations in Malaysia and in general
·         religion
·         sex/roles of the sexes

Doing Business in Malaysia


Office Hours

·         Standard business hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday; offices are sometimes open half a day on Saturday, usually in the morning.
·         In the more observant Muslim states [Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu, and Johore] the working week is Saturday through Wednesday. Offices in these states are sometimes open for half a day on Thursday, usually in the morning.
·         Since most of the country is Muslim, it would be sensible to schedule meetings around prayer times. For example, Friday at noon is a particularly busy time for prayers. Moreover, many companies close their offices on Friday afternoons.
·         Traditionally, the lunch period was from noon or 12:15 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., but this largely has been reduced to one hour, beginning at 12:00 p.m. or 1:00 p.m. Nevertheless, many people still take longer than an hour for lunch. In states where Friday is a workday, Muslims will take a two-hour break to attend a mosque.
·          Try to schedule appointments at least two weeks in advance. If you have not yet arrived in Malaysia, it's a good policy to schedule them a month ahead of time. Malaysian executives tend travel frequently, mainly to conferences in their area of professional interest.
·         Government office hours are typically 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Also, government offices are open on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.; in the more observant Muslim states, they are open Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
·         Store hours vary. Most stores open five or six days a week, from 9:00 a.m. or 10:00 a.m., and will close at 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m.
·         Holidays in Malaysia vary from state to state. The observant Muslim states do not celebrate any non-Islamic holidays such as Christmas and Easter.
·         The majority of Malaysian businesspeople are Chinese; you can expect them to be punctual. Most government officials, however, are ethnic Malays who have more of a relaxed attitude toward time. Although business travelers are expected to be on time, ethnic Malay may not necessarily do the same.


National Holidays

·         Statutory holidays comprise holidays observed throughout Malaysia as national holidays, plus additional holidays that are observed in certain states only.
When a holiday falls on a weekly rest day (Friday or Sundays as the case may be), the following day will be substituted as a Public Holiday; and if such following day is a Public Holiday, then the next day following it shall be a Public Holiday.

Business Card Etiquette

·         Business cards should be printed--preferably embossed--in English. Since a high proportion of Malaysian businesspeople are Chinese, it will be an asset to have the reverse side of your card translated into Chinese. Moreover, gold ink is the most prestigious color for Chinese characters.
·         Ensure that your business card outlines your education, professional qualifications, and business title. You'll find that Malaysians include many of these details on their card.
·         After the necessary introductions are made, offer your card to everyone present.
·         Present your card with both hands. Another option is to present your card using your right hand, with the left hand gently supporting your right.
·         Give your card to the recipient with the print facing him or her.
·         The recipient will accept your card with both hands, and then carefully examine it for a few moments before putting it away in a card case or pocket. When a card is presented to you, you will also be expected to go through this procedure.
·         After receiving a card, never hastily stuff it into your back pocket. Moreover, do not write on another person's business card.

Basic Work Culture

·         All correspondence with government officials must be in the language of Bahasa Malaysia. If you wish, provide an accompanying translation in English.
·         Although most Malays are Muslim, not all of Malaysia follows the traditional Islamic working week in which Friday is the Islamic holy day and the weekend takes place on Thursday and Friday.
·         Only five Malaysian states follow the Islamic workweek of Saturday through Wednesday. These include Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu, and Johore.
·         The Malaysian capital city, Kuala Lumpur, is in the state of Selangor, where the working week is Monday through Friday.
·         The Indian minority's perspective on time is similar to that of the Malays. Nevertheless, the Indian professionals you may encounter will expect punctuality. 
·         Although punctuality is not always a priority in Malaysia, you should still arrive on time for appointments. Even if you know you are going to be kept waiting, make an effort to arrive on time. Moreover, making a Malaysian executive wait can result in "loss of face," which has negative consequences in this culture.
·         Social events in Malaysia involving different cultural groups have varying rules. In general, when invited to a social event, most Malaysians arrive on time or slightly late. In any case, don't arrive more than half an hour late.
·         Alcohol will not be served at any social event hosted by observant Muslims. Since there won't be a "cocktail hour" on these occasions, expect that the meal will be served close to the time given on the invitation.
·         Guests may arrive a few minutes early to a social occasion only when a close friendship has been established. If you are hosting a social event and your guests are close friends, make the effort to be ready early.
·         Addressing Malaysians properly can be difficult, especially for Westerners unfamiliar with the naming patterns of the country's various ethnic groups. During an introduction, make a point of repeating the title and name of the person; afterwards, ask if you are pronouncing everything correctly.
·         When you ask a Malaysian what you should call him or her, directly state what he or she should call you. Your Malaysian counterpart may be unsure as to which of your names is your surname. Follow the Malaysian's lead as to the degree of formality.
·         Most businesspeople you meet should be addressed with a title and name. If a person does not have a professional title [i.e., "Professor", "Doctor", "Engineer"], a Westerner may use courtesy titles such as "Mr." or "Mrs.", plus the name. Be aware, however, that you may be omitting other titles that are important to both the person and to your understanding of that person.
·         Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy with nine royal houses. With so many royals, foreigners are likely to encounter one eventually. Titles and forms of address vary. The best strategy is to ask a native how a particular royal should be addressed.
·         Out of deference, give a slight bow to elderly people you encounter.
·         It is considered rude to point at anyone with the forefinger. Moreover, Malays use the forefinger only to point at animals.
·         Pounding one fist into the palm of the other hand is another gesture that Malays frequently consider obscene and that should be avoided.
·         When passing an object, reaching for something or touching someone [such as shaking hands], do so with your right hand. The left hand is considered unclean and should not be used in contact with others, to eat, or to pass things. This rule applies even if you are left-handed.


Organizational Structure


·         Regardless of the size or nature of the company, hierarchy is an integral part of Malaysian business culture. Malaysian companies generally follow a vertical hierarchical structure where authority is directed from the top.
In keeping with Malaysian culture, titles and job descriptions play a significant part in many Malaysian companies. They are important for employees in order to emphasize the line of authority within the business.
·         Malaysians' respect for authority is evident in most business dealings. The relationship between subordinates and their superiors for example is distinct and highly official. Malaysians do not address their bosses by their first name, but use titles such as "Mr." and "Madam" followed by their honorific form of address.
·         Relationships between Malaysian business colleagues are based on mutual respect and, as such, the same procedure used when addressing their superiors is also applied with their Malaysian business colleagues.


Sensitive issues

·         Never touch anyone on the top of the head (home of the soul), especially a child. Avoid touching anyone of the opposite sex. Affection is not shown in public. 
·         Use your right hand to eat, pass things and touch people. Do not pass objects with your left hand. Do not move objects with your feet or point at another person with your foot.
·         Giving a slight bow when leaving, entering or passing by people means, "excuse me."
·         A smile or laugh could mean surprise, anger, shock, embarrassment or happiness.
·         It is impolite to beckon adults.
·         Single fingers are not used for gesturing.
·         Hitting your fist into a cupped hand is obscene.
·         Hands in pockets signify anger.
·         Feet are also believed to be unclean. Consequently, never move or touch anything with your feet.
·         Never point your feet at another person. You will be expected to apologize whenever your shoes or feet touch another person.
·         Don't show the soles of your feet or shoes. This restriction determines how one sits. You can cross your legs at the knee, but not place one ankle on your knee. Never cross your legs in the presence of Malaysian royalty.
·         Do not prop your feet up on anything not intended for the feet, such as a desk.
·         Remove your shoes when entering a home or holy place.


Negotiation Rules


How to Play it Smart

·         Malaysian business culture is composed largely of Chinese and Indians, whose perspectives and customs are significantly different from those of ethnic Malays.
·         Malaysians, regardless of ethnicity, do business only with people they know and like.
·         You will have to be prepared to make several trips to Malaysia before the decision-making stage. Just as in other cultures, establishing a productive business relationship requires a long-term commitment.
·         Expect negotiations to be slow and protracted.
·         The pace of negotiations in Malaysia is far slower than you may be accustomed to in North America.
·         Getting acquainted is the main purpose of the first meeting.
·         It is important for foreign business executives to develop a personal relationship with their Malaysian counterparts.
·         Politeness is a necessary part of a successful business relationship in Malaysia. Politeness will not, however, affect the determination of Malaysian businesspeople to reach their objectives.
·         Always treat the elderly with respect. Make a point of acknowledging them first in a group. Moreover, do not smoke or wear sunglasses in their presence.
·         Before your presentation, ensure that you have carefully thought through all aspects of your proposal.
·         In Malaysian business culture, transactions and correspondence are frequently conducted in English. Be aware, however, that the English spoken often has unique pronunciations, syntax, and grammar, which can easily lead to misunderstandings.
·         Bahasa Malaysia is the official language of Malaysia. Although most government officials speak some English, they may prefer to hold meetings in their own language. An English-speaking translator, however, is usually provided for these occasions.
·         All correspondence with government officials must be in Bahasa Malaysia. If you wish, provide an accompanying translation in English.
·         Ethnic Malays will accept "outside" concepts only if they are in accordance with the Islamic religion.
·         Ethnic Malays tend to be subjective, associative thinkers. They will often involve themselves personally in problem-solving, rather than seek guidance from a specific set of laws or rules.
·         When formulating arguments and making decisions, empirical evidence and other facts will be considered only by the most secularized, Westernized Malays.
·         Subjective feelings, combined with the Islamic faith, tend to guide perceptions of the truth among ethnic Malays.
·         Ethnic Malays will readily organize and have the support of the group behind their decisions.
·         "Losing face", that is, being embarrassed or losing control of one's emotions in public, has negative consequences in Malaysian society.
·         Keep your cool and refrain from showing that you are upset. By remaining calm at all times, you will be perceived as being able to control your emotions, rather than allowing them to control you.
·         Ethnic Malays, and most other Malaysians for that matter, try to avoid confrontations. For example, they will not give you a direct answer of "no." A "yes" that sounds hesitant or weak usually means "no."
·         Qualified answers are usually an indication of a "no." For example, you're probably right to assume that an answer of "yes, but..." means "no." And, "That might be difficult..." can often mean "no."
·         If you can tell that the respondent is deliberately ignoring your question, this is often another way of indicating a "no" answer.
·         Sucking in air through your teeth is one way to signal a definite answer of "no." In Malaysian business culture, this sound is used to indicate that there is a serious problem, even if on the surface, what is being said sounds positive.
·         When answering a question that requires a decision, Malaysians are often quick to answer "yes", even if they don't mean it. This is because a way must be found to deliver the "no" politely, without "loss of face." Sometimes, a "no" answer is delivered through a third party.
·         It is considered polite among Malaysian Chinese to offer both the positive and negative possibilities in practically every question that requires a decision. For example, rather than asking, "Would you like to go to the theatre?" they are likely to ask "Do you want to go to the theatre or not?"
·         Exercise caution when asking Malaysian Chinese certain questions. For example, English speakers give a negative answer to the question "Isn't the document available?" by responding "no." The intended meaning is: "No, the document is not available." The Chinese interpretation is different. The answer would be "yes", meaning "Yes, the document is not available."
·         Unlike Westerners, Malaysians of all ethnic groups encourage periods of silence in conversation. A silent pause allows for time to collect one's thoughts; it does not necessarily suggest acceptance or rejection of an idea.
·         Before answering a question, Malaysian business protocol demands that the respondent allow for a respectful pause--lasting as long as 10 to 15 seconds. Westerners will sometimes mistakenly assume that they have an agreement and resume talking before a Malaysian has a chance to give a genuine response.
·         Most states have sultans; the social barriers between royalty and the rest of the population are rarely transgressed. Royal personages are treated with reverence in this culture. Moreover, interacting with royalty involves elaborate ritual and special terms of address.
·         Since Malaysians--particularly the Chinese--often consult astrologers, signing a contract may be delayed until a "lucky" day arrives.
·         When doing business in Malaysia, you should never assume, as you might in North America, that a signed contract is a final agreement. Understand that in Malaysian business culture, it is commonplace for negotiations to continue after a contract has been signed.




Entertaining For Success


When you Entertain


·         You should think of business entertaining in Malaysia as a kind of test. Your Malay hosts will be monitoring you closely; they will do business with you only if they are confident that you want to establish a personal relationship with them.
·         In the early stages of your visit, you may not receive many social invitations. Nevertheless, remain patient and allow your Malaysian counterparts to initiate these necessary first invitations. Moreover, there is a prevailing belief that you cannot properly host a social event until you have been a guest at a Malaysian event.
·         Accept social invitations of any kind; these occasions are an important part of doing business here. If you must decline, give a plausible excuse so that you do not cause the invitee to "lose face."
·         Follow Malaysian business etiquette and respond to any invitations you receive in writing. When sending a response to your Chinese counterparts, red or pink stationary is always a safe choice. Avoid white, black or blue stationary, as these colors have upsetting connotations in Chinese culture.
·         As a general rule, spouses may be invited to dinners but not to lunch. Business will not, however, be discussed on occasions where spouses are present.
·         Always wait to be seated; the highest Malaysian officer in attendance or the host is usually in charge of the seating arrangements.
·         If you are hosting a dinner party or similar event, keep in mind that seating is in hierarchical order, in accordance with Malaysian business protocol. In this seating arrangement, the host should be seated to the immediate left of the most senior guest. This guest is traditionally given the "best seat" at the table--which usually means the one located farthest from the door.
·         Hotel restaurants are the safest dining option for women traveling alone.
·         Since service charges are usually included in the bill, tipping is often unnecessary. Restaurants add a 4% service charge, but adding some extra money is a thoughtful and appreciated gesture if the service has been exceptional.
·         The host or person who initiates the meal is expected to pick up the tab.
·         Consider it a rare honor to be invited to a Malaysian home. You should arrive up to 30 minutes after the "official" starting time. Guests should bring a gift for the hostess such as a basket of fruits or an assortment of chocolates.
·         Guests may arrive a few minutes early to a social occasion only when a close friendship has been established. If you are hosting a social event and your guests are close friends, make the effort to be ready early.
·         Alcohol will not be served at any social event hosted by observant Muslims. Since there won't be a "cocktail hour" on these occasions, expect that the meal will be served close to the time given on the invitation.
·         Before entering a home or mosque, remove your shoes and sunglasses.
·         When visiting a Muslim home, you may be seated on the floor. In accordance with Muslim seating protocol, men will sit with their legs crossed while women may sit with their legs either beneath their feet or tucked under their left sides.
·         The development of a business relationship often centers on food. Therefore, for the sake of politeness, sample everything that is offered--even if you find it unappealing.
·         Expect to be served some hot and spicy dishes.
·         Buffets are extremely popular here. Before serving yourself, wait for your host to initiate these proceedings. Men and women may eat separately.
·         Muslims and Hindus believe that the left hand is unclean. Consequently, eat only with your right hand when dining with these groups. Never touch another person or thing with your left hand if you can use your right hand instead. Moreover, accept gifts and hold money in the right hand. These rules apply even if you are left-handed. Nevertheless, when you have no other realistic alternative, you may use both hands.
·         Indian utensil etiquette requires that the serving spoon should not touch the plate when either you or another person is putting food on a plate.
·         Chopsticks should be placed on the chopstick rest after every few bites. They also belong on the chopstick rest when you are drinking or talking.
·         After the meal, an hour of socializing often takes place.
·         In Chinese culture, the question "Have you eaten?" is the equivalent to "How are you?" in North America; it's just a superficial inquiry that does not require a literal-minded, detailed answer. Simply answer, "Yes" even if you haven't actually eaten.
·         In most situations, you will be able to determine which foods are restricted based on the person's cultural heritage. For example, your Muslim counterpart will not partake in alcohol or pork, whereas your Hindu or Sikh counterpart will be unable to eat beef.
·         Always be sensitive to the Muslim belief that dogs are unclean. Moreover, if you are a dog-owner and hosting an event in your home, do not allow your pet to roam free when there are Muslim guests. Also, do not bring your pet dog to any gathering where Muslims will be in attendance.
·         While you're not supposed to hail a cab by raising your hand in mid-air in this culture, it is the standard gesture for beckoning a server in a restaurant.



In their Language


In English
In Malay
Pronunciation

Greeting



Thank you



Sorry



Please



Excuse Me



Welcome



My Name is <your name>



Nice meeting you




Business Culture In Indonesia
This below writeup contains information on everything a sales person needs to know while dealing with the people of Indonesia under the following categories, click on link to read the related news/information items.
This section contains latest information and news related to Indonesia, its basic need-to-know history, political settings and their IT Market conditions.
o    Indonesia Today
o    IT Market
This section contains latest information and news related to the people of Indonesia, their culture and practices.
This section contains details how to dress effectively while dealing with the Indonesian.
o    Topics to Avoid
This section contains information on how the people of Indonesia communicate and how we should reciprocate.
o    Office Hours
This section contains information on doing business in Indonesia, their office hours, when they stay at home, their business etiquette, and other issues.
This section contains information on how to play their negotiation game.
This section contains information on how to entertain the people and what they expect.






About the Country

Indonesia Today
·         Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world. It consists of five major islands and about 30 smaller groups. The archipelago is on a crossroad between two oceans, the Pacific and the Indian, and bridges two continents, Asia and Australia. This strategic position has always influenced the cultural, social, political, and economic life of the country which has achieved independence from the Netherlands in 1949.
·         Crude oil and natural gas are Indonesia's most valuable natural resources and its major source of export revenue. Nearly all of the country's oil and gas deposits are located on Sumatra.
·         The country's economy was severely impacted by the 1997–98 Asian financial crisis and it continues to experience high unemployment and inflation, although the nation began to rebound in 2000. Indonesia's main trading partners are Japan, the United States, Singapore, and South Korea.

Political Condition
·         Indonesia has seen unprecedented turmoil in recent years, facing first the Asian financial crisis, then the fall of President Suharto after 32 years in office, the first free elections since the 1960s, the loss of East Timor, independence demands from restive provinces, bloody inter-ethnic and religious conflict and a devastating tsunami disaster.
·         Long-term leader General Suharto came to power in the aftermath of an abortive coup in 1965. He imposed authoritarian rule while allowing technocrats to run the economy with considerable success. His policy of allowing army involvement in all levels of government down to village level fostered corruption. His "transmigration" programmes - which moved large numbers of landless farmers from Java to other parts of the country - fanned ethnic conflict. Suharto fell from power after widespread rioting in 1998 and has so far escaped efforts to bring him to justice for decades of dictatorship.
·         Indonesia faces growing demands for independence among several provinces, where secessionists have been encouraged by East Timor's 1999 success in breaking away after a traumatic 25 years of occupation.
·         Current issues include: implementing IMF-mandated reforms of the banking sector, effecting a transition to a popularly elected government after four decades of authoritarianism, addressing charges of cronyism and corruption, holding the military accountable for human rights violations, and resolving growing separatist pressures in Aceh and Irian Jaya.

IT Market
·         The ICT market in Indonesia is expected to bring opportunities for local and foreign vendors, as the country strives to embrace and deploy technologies in the hope to compete with countries in     the ASEAN region. With improving business revenue and profits as a result of strong private sector and consumer demand, IDC forecasts that the Indonesian IT market would reach a value of US$1.758 billion in 2005 and US$2.589 billion in 2008 with a 13.2% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Currently, IDC believes that the opportunity for enterprise application is still immense primarily because of Indonesia's still developing economy.




People of Indonesia

The Indonesian
·         Along with unity and conformity to society's rules, honor and respect for the individual is the basis of Indonesian culture. Indonesians value loyalty to family and friends above all else. Life is simple for most people; most enjoy few modern conveniences, such as running water. Indonesia as     a whole is viewed by its people as an extended family with the president, schoolmasters and leaders of business enterprises referred to as "fathers" by the public.


Culture and Practices
·         Generally, greetings among all Indonesians are conducted with stateliness and formality, in a slow, deliberate manner. A hurried introduction can be perceived as disrespectful.
·         Handshakes are the standard greeting. Actually, most Indonesian handshakes bear a greater similarity to handclasps, since they are quite limp and last between 10-12 seconds. You can bow your head, lower your eyes, and smile. It is often inappropriate to touch a woman wearing the Islamic headdress. When introduced, allow the woman to initiate the handshake and be sure to keep any handshake limp.
·         The traditional Hindu greeting involves a slight bow with the palms of the hands together, as if praying. Older, traditional Hindus often use this greeting, called the 'namaste.' It is also an acceptable alternative to a handshake when a Western businesswoman greets a Hindu man. However, this is only prevalent on the Island of Bali.
·         With the exception of handshakes, there is no public contact between the sexes in Indonesia. Hugging and kissing, even between husbands and wives, are frowned upon in public.
·         Conversely, physical contact between people of the same sex is perfectly acceptable. You'll likely observe men holding hands with men or even walking with their arms around each other; these displays are viewed mostly as gestures of friendship.
·         When someone asks you 'Where are you going?' you can answer 'down the street' or 'for a walk.' In Indonesian culture, this question is similar to 'How are you?', so a detailed account of your daily plans is not expected. A local idiomatic response to this question is 'I'm eating the wind.'
·         Be aware that many Indonesians believe that the head is the 'seat of the soul.' Consequently, never touch an adult's head.
·         Traditionally, the head should not be held higher than that of a superior or older family member. For example, Indonesians often go so far as to lower their heads or drop their shoulders when passing 'superiors' on the street. This does not apply to business situations.
·         Among both Muslims and Hindus, the left hand is considered unclean, and whenever possible, should not be used in giving or receiving. The right hand should be used exclusively to eat, accept gifts, hold cash, and touch people; these guidelines apply even if you are left-handed. You may, however, use your left hand to handle objects by yourself.
·         Since the bottom of the shoe is also considered unclean, do not use it to point at, move or touch things. Also, refrain from resting your shoes on desks or tables. Be aware that following this rule affects how you will be able to sit: you can cross your legs at the knee, but not with one ankle over your knee.
·         The 'arms akimbo' position, that is, standing tall with your hands on your hips, is perceived as an angry, aggressive posture. Indeed, this pose is popularly identified as a symbol of anger in Indonesian shadow puppet theatre.
·         To beckon someone, hold your hand out, palm downward, and make a scooping motion with the fingers. Beckoning someone with the palm up and wagging one finger, however, will often be interpreted as obscene.
·         When pointing, do so with an open hand, rather than with your index finger. You can also point with your right thumb and a closed fist [similar to the hitchhiking signal]; this gesture is also used to indicate "You go first."
·         Pounding one fist into the palm of your other hand is another gesture to be avoided, as Indonesians sometimes perceive it as obscene.
·         Chewing gum or eating while walking in public is discouraged.


Suitable Attire

What you should wear
·         Dress modestly but with regard to the heat and humidity. Loose, cool, comfortable clothing is the key
·         Ties are usually not required except in the most formal of circumstances

What you should not wear
·         Shorts and tank tops on men or women will not be looked on favorably
·         Women especially should take care not to wear revealing clothing; even at the beach a bathing suit is considered inappropriate.



Communication

How do they communicate
·         Shake hands and give a slight nod when meeting for the first time. After the first meeting, a handshake is not necessary; a slight bow or nod of the head is sufficient. Shake an Indonesian woman's hand only if she initiates the greeting.
·         Greet people with "Selamat" (sell-a-mat), which means peace. Say it slowly and sincerely.
·         Good relationships involve a great deal of physical contact and touching. But, foreigners should allow time to be accepted and to develop good relationships before this is acceptable.
·         Indonesians are used to an overcrowded society; they tend to ignore inadvertent invasions of space. Allowing for personal space is a sign of respect.
·         A man does not touch a woman in public except to shake hands. Do not display affection in public.
·         The head is where the spirit resides and is considered sacred. Do not touch a person’s head.
·         Keep both feet on the floor when sitting. Do not cross your legs, especially not with an ankle over the knee. Sitting with good posture (rigid) and both feet on the floor is a sign of respect. Don’t allow the bottom of your feet to face or point at another person.
·         Looking someone straight in the eyes is considered staring. Avoid prolonged eye contact, which may be viewed as a challenge and may cause anger.
·         Point with your thumb, not your index finger. Never beckon with one finger.
·         The left hand is considered unclean. Do not touch food, pass or receive anything, touch anyone or point with your left hand.
·         Approval is sometimes shown with a pat on the shoulder, but American-style backslapping is considered offensive.

Topics of Conversation
·         The Weather
·         Family
·         Travel/Tourism
·         Sports
·         Food/praising the local cuisine
·         Future plans of the group or organization
·         The success of the group or organization
·         Anecdotes about your attempts to learn Bahasa Indonesia
·         Current events in general

Topics to Avoid
·         Indonesia's human rights record
·         Bureaucracy
·         Corruption
·         Military influence
·         Criticism of Indonesian ways
·         Commenting on Indonesian customs that you find peculiar
·         Religion
·         Personal success



Doing Business in Indonesia

Office Hours
When making a business trip, do not expect to schedule meetings for Friday afternoons or Saturdays.
Commerce
·         08:00-17:00 Mondays to Fridays*
·         08:00-13:00 Saturdays (some may take Saturday off)
Government
·         08:00-16:30 Mondays to Fridays*
·         *Moslems are released for prayers every Friday from 1200-1300
Banks
·         09:00-15:00 Mondays to Fridays*
Shops
09:00-22:00 Mondays to Saturdays

National Holidays
·         When scheduling a visit to Indonesia, one should avoid coming during July and August since school, summer and national holidays fall during these months. Business visitors should check the local holiday schedule before traveling to Indonesia. Also a business visitor should avoid arranging business meetings in Indonesia 2 weeks prior to and 2 weeks following the Idul Fitri holiday. The same is true for the Chinese New Year holiday. Many decision-makers will be away during this period.

Business Card Etiquette
·         It's an asset to have your business card printed in color and embossed, since Indonesian businesspeople tend to appreciate ornate cards. Most importantly, however, ensure that your card emphasizes your name and position.
·         Your business card should contain as much information as possible, including your business title and qualifications. Indonesians include all of this data on their card, as well as any titles of nobility.
·         Business cards should be exchanged immediately, after an initial handshake and greeting. Also, ensure that the card is offered with your right hand, facing the recipient.
·         When you receive another person's card, make a show of carefully examining it for a few moments and then remarking upon it before putting it in your card case or on a nearby table. Be aware that accepting a business card and then immediately stuffing it into your back pocket will be     perceived as disrespectful.

Basic Work Culture
·         Most Indonesians don't outwardly express anger and will often continue to smile in the face of an upset Westerner. Avoid prolonged periods of eye contact with an Indonesian, as it could be taken as a signal of challenge. It's also very important not to stand with hands on hips, as this is a sign of anger or aggression. The thumb inserted between the index and middle finger is how Indonesians "flip the bird." It is considered very strong language and will offend anyone at whom it is directed.

Organizational Structure
·         Indonesian society is very stratified and hierarchical. Decisions are made at the top (but by consensus) and are respected by those not in authority. Family life is of utmost importance, and respect for elders and political or social superiors transcends into all areas of life.
·         While organizational charts or anatomy of Indonesian business may appear standard to the Western eye, one must look beyond the structure of the organization to see how it really operates. This patriarchal and hierarchical mindset flows to organizational structure. Subordinates do not question their bosses, but offer great loyalty to them as those responsible for their jobs. It is difficult, yet very important, to understand the complex relationships in an organization. A secretary, for example, may be from a prominent family and thus very useful for business intelligence and establishing contacts and meetings with government or business officials.
·         Indonesians avoid embarrassment. So that one may not embarrass or be embarrassed, employees generally only pass on news of positive developments to their superiors. Thus, business information can often be distorted, and managers may be forced to go outside their immediate business to get accurate information.

Sensitive issues
Many western modes of behavior and body language are taboo in Indonesia. Be very aware of how you act in the presence of Indonesians in all situations. Some general rules to follow:
·         Use your right hand in all social encounters, never offer or receive something with your left hand;
·          Always give a soft handshake;
·          Slightly bow your head upon greeting a guest or host;
·          Keep both feet on the floor when sitting, don't cross your legs;
·          Don't sit on a table or desk;
·          Never show the sole of your foot or point your toe at someone;
·          When pointing, use a generalized gesture of the hand;
·          Never touch someone's head or back;
·          Speak softly, without anger or aggressiveness;
·          Be calm and subtle and don't rebut something or someone;
·           Explain things very clearly;
·          When invited to dinner, it is expected that your host will pay;
·           When eating or drinking, don't start until invited to do so;
·           Generally, don't show affection in public;
·           Allow superiors to precede you in doorways and at formal gatherings;
·           Inquire about family status, religion, education, and travel abroad;
·           Don't discuss Indonesian politics unless you are invited to comment;
·           Be aware that how you do something is as important as what you do.




Negotiation Rules

How to Play it Smart
They avoid direct relations. Being direct is considered impolite, and you'll get nowhere if you try to argue. They go at their own pace, and you just have to hang tight and not get upset.
Patience and surrender are useful tools for the Westerner in Indonesia. Don't expect to do there what you do in a typical day at home. Business practices are very different than in the West; it might take weeks or months before a deal is actually closed. This rubber time, or jam karet, is normal, so patience is a virtue. Take a more laid-back attitude—relax and smile—it'll all get done in time.








Entertaining For Success

When you Entertain
·         Accept social invitations of any kind; these occasions are an important part of doing business here. If you must decline, give a plausible excuse so that you do not cause the invitee to 'lose face' and so that you remain on the preferred guest list in the future.
·         In the early stages of your visit, you may not receive many social invitations. Nevertheless, remain patient and allow your Indonesian counterparts to initiate these necessary first invitations. It's also useful to remember that there is a prevailing belief that you cannot properly host a gathering until you have been a guest at an Indonesian event.
·         Many Indonesians have negative images of business travelers and tourists. Social encounters, however, are the best opportunities for you to dispel any preconceived ideas.
·         Respond, in writing, to any invitations you receive.
·         The person who extends the invitation is responsible for paying the bill. If you receive invitations during your stay, be sure to reciprocate before returning home.
·         There is a prevailing belief in Indonesia that the office is the only place to discuss business. Therefore, refrain from discussing business in a social situation, unless your Indonesian companions bring up the subject.
·         The guest of honor is usually seated next to the host [if the honoree is a male] or hostess [if the honoree is a female].
·         You should demonstrate respect for the guest of honor by waiting until he or she has ordered before you do so. Additionally, wait until he has served himself and has taken the first sip of his beverage before you proceed with the meal. This is very important. If you are the host, be sure that you invite your guest to begin.
·         Forks and spoons are the main utensils; knives are rarely, if ever, a part of the Indonesian dining experience.
·         Eat and pass dishes with the right hand only, since the left hand is considered unclean. This rule applies even if you are left-handed. The left hand may be used only when there is no other realistic alternative.
·         You will be presented with a wide array of food originating from Indonesia's numerous regions. Make an effort to sample everything, if for no other reason than as a sign of respect to Indonesian culture.
·         Seasonings--many of which are hot and spicy--are an essential part of Indonesian cooking. Consequently, ensure that you have plenty of water on hand. Indonesians think that most westerners cannot tolerate spicy food. They will ask if it is too hot and then laugh at your response.
·         Rice will be served at every meal, often combined with a variety of meats and vegetables. Indonesians often believe that Westerners cannot eat rice and will be surprised when you do.
·         Some Indonesian foods unfamiliar to many Westerners include shrimp that is served and eaten with the legs still attached, fish-head soup, and meats such as goat and buffalo.
·         Always leave a portion of your meal on your plate to signal that you've been satisfied with the meal.
·         When you have finished your meal, place your fork with the tines down on your plate and cross the spoon over it.
·         In most of Indonesia's better restaurants, a 10% gratuity charge is added. Whenever you are in doubt if this charge has been added to the bill, it is okay to ask. If it hasn't been included, leave a 10% tip. In traditional restaurants tipping is not practiced.
·         When bellboys and doormen have been of assistance to you, it is in order to tip them approximately Rp 5,000. When you are assisted with your luggage, you should give Rp 1,000 - 2,000 per bag to the porter.
·         Home invitations are rare because of cramped housing, often inhabited by several extended family members. If you are invited to an Indonesian home, you should consider it a rare honor, but might want to suggest that you meet in a more neutral social situation such as a restaurant.
·         If invited to a home, you are expected to arrive 10 to 20 minutes late. Upon arrival, discreetly check to see if your host or hostess is wearing shoes. If not, be sure to remove your own shoes.
·         It is appropriate to bring a gift with you. While any small token gift will be appreciated, such as candy or something representative of your country, avoid giving alcohol if your hosts are Muslim.
·         Wait for the host to invite you to begin eating or drinking.
·         Most Indonesians go to bed relatively early, and guests typically leave between 9:00 and 9:30 p.m. or directly after the meal or any speeches are finished.
·         In your business dealings, be sure to become familiar with the most senior person. If you are hosting a dinner, this individual should be considered the guest of honor and treated with special attention.
·         Women should be sure to include spouses when extending any invitations for social functions to Indonesian businessmen.
·         Planning a dinner party or similar social event in Indonesia can be extremely complicated, as outlined in the following points:
·         First, ensure that you send written invitations, addressed to the husband and wife, at least two weeks in advance. Be aware that even if your invitations state 'RSVP', you may not receive many responses. Consequently, you should phone your guests to confirm if they will be attending your gathering. Be prepared to state the reason for the party and reveal the entire guest list, including the guest of honor.
·         When invited to a social event, Indonesians try to ascertain who will be the most important guests. They will then attempt to arrive later than 'minor' figures on the guest list, but earlier than more important ones. To ensure that no one arrives after the important guests, invitations sometimes add the request: 'Please arrive 15 minutes early.'
·         Do not send invitations printed on white, black or blue paper to Indonesian Chinese, as these colors are associated with sadness. Red or pink, however, can be acceptable colors for invitations.
·         Generally, spouses may be invited to dinner but not to lunch. Be aware, however, that business will not be discussed in the presence of spouses.
·         Make the effort to invite several Indonesians of the same ethnic group. Also, be sensitive to the fact that many of the wives in attendance may not speak English well.
·         Hold your party early, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. In Indonesia, people usually rise and go to bed early. The guests will probably be gone by 9:30 p.m.
·         Indonesians find buffets more comfortable than sit-down dinners with assigned places. Nevertheless, ensure that the food served in the buffet is sophisticated.
·         Remember that observant Muslims do not drink alcohol or consume pork products.
·         Show tremendous respect toward your guest of honor. He or she is the last to arrive and the first to go through the buffet line. Also, accompany your special guest to the buffet table, explaining what each dish is. Guests will begin to excuse themselves around 9:00 p.m., and you should escort the honoree to his or her car.