Business and Social Etiquette around the World We research and compare findings from 13 countries across the world.OverviewHigh-context cultures (such as Japan, India, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa) are collectivist, value interpersonal relationships, and have members that form stable, close relationships. They rely heavily on context (i.e., body language, a person’s status, and tone of voice) and messages are not explicitly stated. This is in direct contrast to low-context cultures, in which information is communicated primarily through language and rules are explicitly spelled out. High-context cultures prefer more nuanced approaches that place a lower focus on team or business goals and are reluctant to suborn cultural and social norms in favour of achieving corporate objectives.Organizations from the Anglo-Saxon group (US, UK, Canada, and Australia) place more emphasis on universally applicable rules and codes of ethics (and be less supportive of behaviors, driven by particularistic and situational considerations). They believe in the importance of personal moral and ethical behavior of leaders; and emphasize the importance of formal ethics programs and related training. These cultures place absolute importance on achieving corporate goals.Organizations from the rest of countries are more inclined to use situational and individualized approach to ethical decision making, and will put less emphasis on formal rules, codes, or compliance programs.We could expect to find significant variation in ethical business practices among countries outside the Anglo-Saxon cluster, even among countries of the same region.This paper reports the results of a survey-based study of perceptions of ethical business practices in 13 countries of Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Responses from more than 23,000 managers and employees were analyzed and aimed at identifying homogeneous sets of countries. Anglo-Saxon countries (US, UK, Australia, and Canada) were clustered together and joined by India in most cases. Japan and Italy formed a significantly different from all other countries homogenous subset, while countries of continental Europe, China, Mexico, and Brazil tended to form various mid-range clusters, different from the above two groupings.The Middle EastBusiness behavior in Arab countries is governed by Islamic views, which assume that human behavior, in general, is governed by innate universal moral values. In the Middle East, especially in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, business decisions have to pass through a moral filter. For example, it is a moral obligation of a seller to disclose to the buyer any defects in articles they are selling. However, in many cases, there is a gap between this ideal and the actual practices because of the existence of divergent behaviors on the part of business people who need to compete and to survive in difficult conditions.United Arab EmiratesSocial and Business EtiquetteAvoid business jargonPeople may be loud and affectiveThey emphasize statusThey are intuitiveThey consider that a little of emotion is a sign of sincerityAny hesitation in giving an answer is a sign of a NoTruth is mostly perceived as cruel, dangerous, rude and negotiableSlow at revealing their true mindsWords have high valueDon’t swear or cussStatus is more important than achievementsExaggeration and metaphors are aboundStrong eye contact is appreciatedHigh level of connections and networkingPoints of InterestStock marketConstruction / contractors issues and futureCarsHospitality (Bedouin tradition of 3 days is a must)GenerosityHide emotionsShort eye contactExtended courtesy (to count the blessings)WastaFatalismHonorThey prefer a conservative sitting and position of feetHigh work ethicsManners (say haram in case of…)Points of discussion: food, perfumes, medicines, family, multiple cell phonesCritical thinking is welcome within politenessDislikesStaring / long eye contactDiscussing religion or politics with people they don’t know or trust well enoughProfanity and poor jokesSaudi ArabiaSocial and Business Etiquette Saudi nationals can be affective and loudMake enough eye contactSaudis are shrewd negotiatorsMany meetings may take place before something substantive may come outBuild confidence and trust. Business is between friends firstMeeting usually ends with an invite for hot drinks; an indication of future meetingsReliance on GodBrief contracts (to maintain an allowance for future changes)Points of InterestHistory of country or cityCoffeeDislikesDiscussing religionProfanityIndiaIndian managers agree that companies’ main concern should be making profits. They rated harming the environment as more dishonest than did their US counterparts. Indians rely more on intuition and on relational attributes of specific cases (e.g. assessment of who is involved in a particular situation). Indian managers consider unconditional loyalty to their organization a highly ethical behavior, being in this respect similar to the Chinese, and significantly different from respondents from the US, Europe, and Australia.Business and Social EtiquetteIndian nationals expect relationship-oriented business with savvy, honorable and trusted partnersPrefer to deal with top decision-makerThey’re wittyPrefer people who show emotions in words, not in agitation or touchingSocial banter awaiting cue from principal to talk businessBe genial, warm, talk about family stuff or self at first to connect and make them identify with youEarn their respect and likingNew generations have more contemporary social inclinationsThey make decisions based on intuition and factsThey’re moderately animated and emotionally expressive in a business environmentYou need to understand their needsBe solicitous, reasonable and flexibleIndian managers are mostly experimentersThey show respect and humility in general to the listenerIndians are reluctant to criticize because of fear of bad karmaThey show respect and humility in general to the listenerReluctant to criticize because of fear of bad karmaWilling to listen at length but do not misunderstand their sagacityVery skilled negotiators because they listen and are patientDislike sarcasm and ironyShow in general a high degree of interest in good corporate governancePurity is valued as is humility and self-denialIndirect eye contactThey prefer limited banter at startPoints of interestEntertainmentFamily valuesArcheology and cultureFoodsHeritageCricketSavviness and honorFamily‘We’ICTImpact of Indian business community on the local economyDislikesIdeology when talking businessPersonal questionsAnglo-Saxon CountriesThe Anglo-Saxon cluster includes the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK. These countries represent one cluster (high individualism, low uncertainty avoidance) where ethical business cultures are based on the alignment between formal structures, processes, policies, formal training and development programs, and consistent value-based ethical behavior of top leadership. Personal moral development and authentic behavior of leaders is perceived as an important factor in creating the ethical culture of an organization. Significant attention is paid to the development and enforcement of codes of ethics and formal compliance programs. There is a strong emphasis on the development of ethics-based mission and value statements, and the alignment of corporate values with all other elements of the culture and day-to-day operations of the organization.ChinaIn China, business ethics practices are strongly influenced by Confucianism (Compassion, Appropriateness, Norms, and Wisdom) to deliberately develop a corporate culture with uniquely Chinese characteristics. CEOs display leadership approaches, based on Confucian principles of “benevolence, harmony, learning, loyalty, righteousness, and humility, which emphasize the central importance of the Confucian moral principle of trustworthiness. Specific examples from business practice, suggest that, in keeping with Confucian principles, Chinese business people rely less on formal contracts, and prefer to rely on individual informal agreements and personal assessment of the trustworthiness of business partners.JapanThe Japanese value system stresses the importance of harmony in contrast with the stronger emphasis on benevolence in China. This leads to “greater emphasis on ‘situational ethics’ in Japanese society, where the emphasis on group harmony largely eliminates the search for absolute values, and in effect, individual responsibility beyond conformity to group norms. Japanese managers tend to be more situational in their ethical decision making than Americans. In addition, company policies on business ethics are the most important determinant of whether managers will make ethical decisions.Western EuropeCountries of Continental Western Europe pointed out that, due to significant cultural-historical differences among the countries of Europe, it is impossible to make generalizations about business ethics approaches in Western Europe as a whole. France and Germany belong to a different cluster than the UK, and as having moderate individualism and high uncertainty avoidance. Europe places less emphasis on corporate codes of ethics, but more emphasis on strengthening the overall legal framework for business conduct. Companies in Europe do not receive strong incentives from governments to promote business ethics-related programs, while in the US, state guidelines provide reduced fines for violators, who had effective ethics programs in place.German companies were less inclined to introduce formal ethics programs than their US counterparts. German managers tend to be more particular in their outlook and view American business ethics as excessively legalistic. The US legalistic emphasis on corporate codes of ethics is rooted in the culturally-conditioned belief in procedural justice, and in maintaining a level playing field for all. This view corresponds to universalism (defined as a strong belief that laws and rules apply to all equally, regardless of specific circumstances, which contrasts with the particular assumption that rules can be interpreted more loosely based on specifics of a situation and the nature of relationships with involved people). German businessmen feel that this kind of business ethics does not have much to do with ethics at all since it “only” aims at legal compliance. Ethical behavior goes further than legal behavior.Latin AmericaSome of the numerous problems facing Latin America (including Brazil and Mexico) include low transparency levels in business and politics; excessive consumption and materialism, on the one hand, and high levels of poverty, on the other. There is a disconnect in private domains values of the Roman Catholic Church and business practices. Brazilian managerial culture is characterized by paternalism, power concentration, and loyalty to one’s in-group and leader. Social ethics is based on the strong preference for social cohesion, which is cemented by loyalty to the group leader. The leader, on the other hand, is responsible for each group member’s well-being. This web of reciprocal obligations could lead to both positive and negative outcomes. On the positive side, it can result in high performance on the part of individual employees if they feel loyalty to the group and the leader; on the other hand, such loyalty is associated with a strong fear of making a damage to the collective mistake, thus reducing creativity and innovation. Another cultural trait is flexibility. Flexibility in business reflects a realization that “there is an ‘intermediary path’ between what is and what is not allowed”. There is a special way of managing obstacles in order to find a way out of bureaucracy; it’s a way to find a middle path between what is allowed by numerous laws and regulations, and what is practically possible and makes sense. There’s an adaptation mechanism which allows individuals and businesses to function despite the rigid and stifling legislative environment, massive bureaucracy, paternalistic management systems, and the oligarchic economic structure, dominated by powerful hereditary clans.