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Contracts and culture

June 16, 2016

Increasingly global, increasingly diverse teams, increasingly virtual communications …. the challenge of managing contracts has never been greater. Whether you are assembling, negotiating or implementing agreements, the results you achieve depend on teamwork – and in cross-cultural environments, that can be hard to achieve.

IACCM research has revealed just how demanding it is today to work across cultures. Not only are we dealing with more countries, we are also seeing greater activity between different industries. Cultural variations are not just national – they exist between functions, professions, companies and industries. Successful contracts depend on coordinating and reconciling differences in all these dimensions.

Examples of the challenges we face include the reactions that different cultures may have to the use of power, the handling of conflict, or attitudes to leadership. IACCM’s recent study of international contracting illustrates all these points, as well as the variations in ethics, business standards and transparency.

As we work in increasingly diverse teams, we also need to understand (and address) variations in the things that motivate different cultures, their attitudes to goals or norms of practice. Language is an area we understand – and hopefully we make allowances when team members do not share a common tongue. The more we work with strangers, the greater the challenge of effective communication. The job of the contract manager is often to ensure common understanding and shared commitment. If we fail to appreciate the impacts of culture and the need this creates for sensitivity in approach and quality in communication, we put our contracts at risk.

An IACCM webinar on July 7th will present recent research that examines these issues and suggests how best they can be handled.


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