The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is a Middle Eastern conservative country with age-old traditions and belief systems that are derived from the Arab culture. The country has a prevailing monarchy that is rich in Arab and Islamic heritage and a characteristic homogeneity in culture (Anon, n. d). It occupies most of the Arabian Peninsula and it shares boundaries with Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and the Red Sea (Wikipedia). The introduction and acceptance of Islam as a major religion is seen to be a driving force in its conservatory approach.
This cultural system predominant in KSA cut into various aspects of life and living. In the country, public expressions of views are highly prohibited. There is also a heavy restriction placed on mode of dressing and public consumption of alcohol. Persons of opposite sex are not to be seen in close proximity to each other when appearing in public places. The country is also noted for placing great emphasis on family and family values. These traditions which have longed shaped the behavioural patterns exhibited by the Saudi’s are being ingrained from childbirth and enforced by laws.
The knowledge and practice of Islam is highly regarded by the Saudi Arabians as this provides a framework of meeting to their cultural practices. Conflict and open confrontations is avoided, preferring alternatives like compromise and self control in disagreement, while still striving to ensure that dignity and respect is accorded to whoever as at when due (Anon, n. d). As a high context culture, the mode of communication is reliant on non-verbal cues such as body language, eye contact and facial gestures.
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As earlier noted, the cultural practices of the Saudi Arabians place great emphasis on respect especially for one’s elders – a characteristic of vertical hierarchical systems. This gives people of higher standing such as managers or senior citizens, the power of being autocratic. Such features are typical of a high or wide power distance societies described by Hofstede in his framework for cultural analysis. According to his model, Hofstede classed KSA on a scale of about 80 on the power distance index (Mead and Andrews, 2009, p. 37). Saudi Arabia can also be assumed to be a county with a high uncertainty avoidance index.
Conflict and competition is usually avoided (Mead and Andrews, 2009). The slow-paced introduction of westernization into the culture reveals how the society is resistant to change, the thought of which places undue anxiety and stress on the members of its community. The attachment to family ties is a manifestation of its collectivistic approach in the culture of the Saudis. The social identity is derived from a group membership he/she shares. Loyalty to one’s family members supersedes that of the individual; family involvement in personal life is usually not seen as being invasive or interfering (Anon, 2008).
Hofstede scores the Saudis as having about 40 on the individualistic dimension (Mead and Andrews, 2009). Since this dimension expresses independence, a low score would mean a higher tendency towards collectivism. Even though the culture of the Saudis emphasizes hierarchy and autocracy, their mode of conflict resolution is compromise. The Saudi Arabians believe in relationship building and on solidarity (Anon, 2008), and thus characteristic of the feministic cultures. However, a masculinity feature is also observed amongst its members of the society.
Sex roles are not equally distributed as it is expected that females who ought to be gentle, compassionate, and reserved, take up jobs that complement these attributes. This mix of feministic and masculinity explains the average value obtained for this dimension. The Saudi Arabian culture values differ from that practiced in Nigeria. First, Saudis culture is being guided by the principles and doctrines of Islam. Nigeria, on the other hand, is multi-religious and holds various cultural values linked to respective religions.
Notwithstanding, there is a widely practiced national culture common to all Nigerians irrespective of tribe, race or religion. Nigerians, unlike the Saudis, are attached to very little degrees of anxiety and/or stress, and as such, are not easily dispelled in the face of uncertainties. A common expression used in Nigeria “God is in Control”, further shows that Nigerians ascribe all outcomes of daily lives to a Supreme Deity/God. Nigerians are also very expressive, although mistaken for being loud; and this is a contrast to the conservatism of the Saudis.
In the event of a likely negotiation, the suitable approach to be used should harness or adopt existing cultural trends. Disputes could be managed by leveraging on pre-existing relationship with the negotiator, tabling concerns without aggression but with a calm and peace-seeking mannerism. Being guided purely by Islam, Saudis do not believe in haste and as such it is expected that deliberations could go on for long protracted time. It is advised then that a great deal of patience be invoked else the negotiations would turn sour.
Due to the conservativeness, the mode of dressing during negotiation should be such that do not reveal certain parts of the body. While this is entertained in Western system, in Saudi, it is seen as a total disrespect for their cultures. Owing to the high regard for superiors, it would be advised to apply tact in negotiation dealings with the Saudis. In such meetings, older superiors would be representatives of the team. Despite the disparity between the two countries, these approaches for use in Saudi are also applicable in Nigeria. REFERENCES: Anon, (2008) Research Paper on The Hofstede Analysis for Saudi Arabia [Online].
Available from: http://ivythesis. typepad. com/term_paper_topics/2008/09/research-pape-o. html (Accessed: 26 July 2011). Anon, (n. d) Doing Business in Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabian Social and Business Culture [Online]. Available from: http://www. communicaid. com/access/pdf/library/culture/doing-business-in/Doing%20Business%20in%20Saudi%20Arabia. pdf (Accessed: 26 July 2011). Mead, R. & Andrews, T. G. (2009) International management. 4th ed. Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons. Wikipedia – Saudi Arabia http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Saudi_Arabia#Culture (Accessed: 26 July 2011).