This post is by guest blogger Mark Weber. Weber is Marketing Professor and Director of International Business in the School of Management at Nazareth College.
She checks her watch for the fifth time. The German executive is not happy despite a fresh ocean breeze cooling the sunny Buenos Aires plaza. Tomás, her 9:00 AM appointment, is 27 minutes late. Punctuality is critical to Germans. Argentineans believe time expands to fit the challenges of life. The norms are in conflict. A key to understanding culture is grasping the variety of time perspectives around the world. Tick tock goes the global clock.
Global Clock – Japanese Time
Just after the ritual of exchanging business cards, the Japanese host asks his American guest,” How long will you remain in Tokyo?” The American, who is hoping for rapid negotiations on an agreement, replies, “My return flight is Friday afternoon.” Wrong answer! The Japanese will not begin seriously negotiating with their guest until a few hours before his departure. The pressure will force the American to give up on price and/or terms in order to carry a weaker agreement on the trip home. Japanese are very patient people who know how to use time as a weapon against generally impatient Americans. The correct American answer to the host is, “I plan to remain in Tokyo until we reach an agreement.” The Japanese lose time leverage and are forced to negotiate in a normal manner.
Global Clock – Monochronic versus Polychronic
Cultures tend to trend toward being Monochronic or Polychronic. The traits of Monochronic countries include focus, discipline, priorities, and punctuation. Polychronic traits are more relaxed with a perspective on ‘what’ is to be achieved over ‘when’ it will be achieved. Building relationships and enjoying life trumps time.
ChangingMinds.org. (n.d.). Hall’s Cultural Factors. November 13, 2010
Many factors, like religion, philosophy, and history, impact a culture’s view of time. A common trend is weather. Tropical or warmer environments tend to be Polychronic. Colder atmospheres tend to be Monochronic with many cultures in the middle.
Global Clock – Spanish Dinner
A British manager takes an early morning flight to Barcelona. Knowing his first meeting is dinner, the Brit races around the Mediterranean city enjoying the unique Gaudi architecture, the amazing Sagradafamilia Cathedral, and the blue sea splashing against the surgery beaches. Late in the day a text message surprises him. Dinner will not begin until 10:30PM. The Brit assumed evening dining. It is nearly 2:00AM, the following morning, before our visitor finds a few hours of sleep. Spaniards are famous for very late meals. While they still arrive at the office at a normal morning time, many Spanish business people depend on an afternoon siesta to assist their prolonged day. Neighboring counties are pushing Spain to adapt meals toward European times. Until then, business visitors may need to plan their own siesta to survive a Spanish dinner.
Global Clock – Nazareth College
Better understanding cultures are a priority at Nazareth College. International business students must know more about global trade than tariffs and taxes. By integrating business, art, religion, music, history, languages, science, and philosophy into our curriculum, students better understand time and many other perspectives about cultural norms. The Nazareth College study abroad program offers a wide variety of destinations including internships with businesses in other countries. Our goal for future global leaders is to not only accept different cultural norms, but to celebrate them. With the global clock at Nazareth College, time is on your side.