A look at business negotiations, with an emphasis on working in international and multicultural contexts.
In this debut business book, Rana takes a sociological perspective on cultural differences as he guides readers through developing a practical framework for effective cross-cultural negotiation. The book provides high-level overviews of the concepts behind generally accepted ideas of culture and negotiation, then moves into more specific information with its exploration of individual cultural traits and their applicability to negotiation tactics. The book is thoroughly researched and footnoted, and Rana draws widely on existing work in the field to develop the book’s approach to negotiation. As a result, the book is rather information-dense and requires more of the reader’s attention than many popular business books. Portions of the book, like a four-page list of definitions of culture drawn from more than a century of sociological and anthropological research, would benefit from more selective incorporation. Rana provides comprehensive information on the factors that influence negotiating styles in the world’s major cultural groups, with several established cultural heuristics described in detail. While useful, this approach is at times hampered by a tendency to generalize: “The main religions can be divided into three broad categories,” “Religion is interpreted in Africa as spirituality rather than doctrine,” etc. The book is more successful with its specific examples of successful cross-cultural negotiations, from the 1978 Camp David Accords to Chrysler’s partnerships with Daimler and Fiat, as well as with its practical tips for improving cultural competency and incorporating cultural awareness into negotiation tactics. The writing, with its frequent use of specialized terminology (etic and emic approaches, for instance) and acronyms (BATNA, DMU), adds to the sense that the book’s ideal reader is comfortable with academic prose. Nevertheless, the conclusions are more practical than theoretical and will likely be useful to business practitioners outside the academy.
A thorough, though sometimes overly detailed, exploration of how cultural values affect negotiations across national boundaries and how to use that understanding to advantage.