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Hofstede’s Cultural Model in Negotiations Analytical Essay

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Updated: Jul 3rd, 2019


Negotiations are important avenues through which different parties can mutually agree to a solution after holding discussions. Negotiations are often held between interested parties with a view of achieving positive results at the end of the process. Culture may affect the level of success of a negotiation, particularly where the parties involved hail from different cultural backgrounds.

This paper seeks to discuss in detail the concept of negotiations by specifically analyzing the significance of Hofstede’s cultural model in negotiations, addressing impasses in negotiations, and examining relationships and their significance during negotiations.

Hofstede’s Model of Culture and Its Impacts

There are four dyads of cultural aspects, according to Hofstede’s culture differentiation model. These include masculinity against femininity, long term orientation against short term orientation, individualism against collectivism, and uncertainty avoidance index (Steers and Nardon 137). Masculinity against femininity focuses on a culture’s emotional roles distribution between the genders.

Masculine cultures have specific characteristics, such as assertiveness, competitiveness, and power, whereas feminine cultures characteristically give more emphasis on quality of life. Examples of masculine societies include Germany and the USA, while Sweden is a feminine society (Steers and Nardon 137).

Long-term orientation seeks to analyze societies by virtue of time horizon, where societies considered being long-term oriented give greater emphasis to the future (Steers and Nardon 137). This contrasts with short-term oriented societies, where values are promoted based on both the present time frame and the past. Japan, China, and Brazil are examples of societies with long-term orientation, while Pakistan, Russia, and Nigeria have short-term orientation.

The individualism-collectivism cultural framework defines societies on the basis of the importance that they attach to either individual interests or group interests. Collectivistic societies, thus, give greater priority to group interests, as opposed to individualistic societies that give precedence to the interests of the individual more than they do to the group interests.

Examples of collectivistic cultures include Latin America and Indonesia, while individualistic cultures include Australia and the Scandinavian countries (Steers and Nardon 137). Uncertainty avoidance measures the scope of a people’s feeling of threat out of situations that are uncertain.

Where a society is considered as having low uncertainty avoidance, the subjects tolerate ambiguity and there is little need for regulations in order to put uncertainty into check. Examples of such societies include the United Kingdom and Singapore. High uncertainty avoidance societies, on their part, are intolerant where there is ambiguity, and it requires many regulations to control uncertainty. Such societies include Greece and France (Steers and Nardon 137).

Significance on International/Multi-Cultural Negotiations

Hofstede’s dimensions are significant in minimizing cultural conflicts between countries. There is a greater possibility of misunderstandings emerging where individuals from different societies meet for negotiations since cultural practices and beliefs vary. Through understanding this model, such misunderstandings are minimized because individuals get to learn about cultural practices of other countries and learn to appreciate them.

Thus, participants will be keen on the verbal cues, as well as the non verbal cues that they choose during negotiations. For instance, an American who is highly individualistic and who negotiates with an Indonesian may likely consider his personal interests as taking precedent in their discussions.

The Indonesian, however, may shelve his own interests in favor of collective benefit. This may prompt the American to consider him a coward, which may not augur well for the negotiations. Understanding Hofstede’s cultural model, however, will make both parties understand and respect each other’s position in their negotiations.

Impasses in Negotiations

It is possible to determine the most appropriate time when negotiations would require third party involvements. Several pointers to this effect exist, including a stressful or emotional situation, when the participant lacks the appropriate expertise required for the negotiation, and when a participant’s strategy is failing. In the first instance, where the situation seems to be emotional, a participant’s rational thinking is likely to be affected by the situation.

A third party involvement would, thus, help in making the discussions clearer to the advantage of the participant. Lack of technical skills, on the other hand, may deprive a participant the advantage of negotiating from an informed position. A third party negotiator in this instance, therefore, would involve a person who is highly skilled in the aspects being negotiated and whose arguments are made from an informed position.

A doctor, for instance, would argue on health matters from a point of understanding compared to the contributions that a teacher would give on the same topical issue (Dietmeyer 112). Equally, when a negotiation strategy fails, it is important that a third party negotiator is involved in order to ensure the objectives are attained.

The third party negotiator must have adequate understanding on the negotiations such that it would be easy for him to employ alternative strategies until the anticipated results are achieved (Dietmeyer 112).

Forms of Third Party Involvement

Third parties may take part in negotiations through mediation or arbitration. While acting as mediators, the third party negotiator seeks to build up mutually satisfactory solutions such that the parties to the negotiations may easily arrive at a conclusion.

For instance, a mediator would seek to establish an agreeable solution for both parties where workers withdraw their services because they demand a 50% increase in salaries, yet the employer can only add 20%. This may be done by suggesting a 30% pay increase. This would call for the workers to climb down from their initial position of 50%, while imploring on the employer to include an additional 10% to the previous position of 20%.

Third parties may also participate in negotiations as arbitrators, where they act by dictating outcomes. Arbitrators enjoy immense powers because the solutions they offer to a negotiating party are final and have to be adopted even though they may not be acceptable.

In an election dispute, for example, an arbiter may decide that a particular candidate is the winner and the solution offered will be allowed to stand even though the candidate ruled against may not be in agreement with the decision.

Relationship Building and Negotiations

Relational contexts during negotiations may be considered as integrative or distributive. In an integrative context of negotiation, the parties assume greater cooperation and trust and relations are given priority (Schermerhorn 350). This contrasts with a distributive context, where hard positions during the bargaining are adopted. The parties involved often lack past interactive relationships and are least expected to forge any interactive relationship (Schermerhorn 350).

Manifestation of the negotiation process

Negotiators in an integrative context focus more on value creation during the entire process. Their idea revolves around expanding the subject of their negotiation such that both parties may emerge as winners at the end of the process.

Each party begins the negotiating process by understanding the interests of the other party such that this takes the center stage rather than focusing on their individual arbitrary starting positions. Strict observation of the objectives is significant in achieving successful results for the whole process, even though the entire negotiation process will look at the issue at hand as a common problem (Schermerhorn 350).

This negotiation process involves both parties seeking to outdo the other in order to benefit more. The parties regard each other as adversaries more than partners, with the negotiations adopting hard line positions from the onset (Schermerhorn 350).

How to earn trust in a relationship

One way through which parties to a negotiation can earn trust in order to bolster relationships is by minimizing on perceptions and the effects of stereotypes. Negative consideration of others will only create a counter reaction, which ends up creating conflict. Negotiators can adopt use of pleasant adjectives, such as honorable or brother, to portray their positive perception towards the other party (Movious and Susskind 98).

Recognition of the other party’s legitimacy is also significant in earning trust and bolstering relationships in negotiations. This equally creates a situation where the other party considers its counterpart as legitimate, and therefore opens up fully without any kind of fear (Movious and Susskind 99). All the necessary details required during the process will be issued by both parties, making the negotiation healthy altogether.

Number of Parties in Negotiations

Types of parties

Several types of parties involved in negotiations exist, including agents and constituencies, and negotiating dyad. Agents and constituencies refer to a negotiation type where the negotiator involved is acting on the behalf of another party. The individual involved in the actual negotiation is referred to as the agent, while those represented are the constituency (Gelfand and Brett 214).

Another type of negotiation by party composition is the negotiating dyad, which involves two individuals actively and directly involved in the negotiations. Such negotiations often center on the needs and interests of the participants. The diagram below depicts a negotiating dyad structure.

A negotiating dyad structure

Source: Lewicki, Barry, and Saunders (2010)

How the Parties Shape Pending Negotiations

Agents begin by negotiating with the constituents whom they seek to represent in another negotiation, where the collective view of what is intended in the negotiation is determined. The agent next establishes a relationship with the other party in the negotiation in order to reach an agreement.

Measures to lessen complexities in multi-party negotiation

Complexities can be eliminated by ascertaining the compatibility of the two parties where constituents and agents are involved. This means both parties must be understanding each other properly and be ready to work together as agreed between them. The contract binding the two must also be clear.

Clarity of the contract should involve spelling out the expectations properly and determining the terms and conditions of the cooperation. It is important to provide the agent with the discretion to design, as well as develop the overall negotiation process since he or she will assume the full responsibility of a party to a negotiation, thus the need to have the discretion.


Negotiations are part of an important discussion that brings together individuals or parties in their bid to achieve a common goal over a divergent issue. It is important for parties to a negotiation to prepare adequately before engaging each other in order to achieve quality negotiations.

Preparations aim at creating trust and building relationships. Understanding the culture of parties involved in a negotiation is important as it aims at reducing conflicts that mainly occur through assumptions or stereotypes. It is important to include terms and conditions of the relationship as a measure of reducing conflicts where third parties are involved.

Works Cited

Dietmeyer, Brian. Strategic Negotiation: A Breakthrough Four-Step Process for Effective Business Negotiation. New York, NY: Kaplan Professional. 2004. Print

Gelfand, Michele and Brett, Jeanne. The Handbook of Negotiation and Culture. Stanford, CA: Stanford University, 2004. Print.

Lewicki, Roy, Barry Bruce, and Sauders David. Negotiation. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.

Movious, Hallam and Susskind Lawrence. Built to Win: Creating a World-Class Negotiating Organization. Boston, MA: Harvard, 2009. Print.

Schermerhorn, John, R. Exploring Management. Danvers, MA: Wiley. 2010. Print.

Steers, Richard M, and Luciara Nardon. Managing In The Global Economy. New York, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc, 2006. Print.

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