CULTURE DIFFERENCES

Time is one of the concepts in which differences in culture come to the fore. In Asian cultures in general, and Vietnam in particular, it is common practice to take time for rituals and building relations. Dutch entrepreneurs, on the other hand, want to come to the point immediately during negotiations and are used to do business with people with whom they do not necessarily have to build a close relationship.

The Vietnamese foster harmony and are very polite during negotiations. They respect authority and hierarchy more than the Dutch do and they also have respect for people older than themselves. They do not argue among themselves to bring differences of opinion into the open, in contrast to the Dutch who were raised to give their opinion openly and directly in meetings.

True as these observations and generalisations may still be, more and more people of the two countries study abroad or have gained experience in doing business abroad in other cultures and one can notice that in their behaviour. In Vietnam too there is an increasing number of businessmen that is used to doing business in a western way.

Differences in country cultures may then move from the negotiation table to the invisible supporters and influencers behind the scene. Consequently a negotiation deal at the table with two parties present may well go smoothly, but the cultural differences may pop up later, with all the risks attached.