Uncertainty Avoidance in International Business: The Hidden Cultural Dimension You Need to Understand When Doing Business Overseas
I’ve been consulting with organizations who operate internationally for the last 20 years.
Part of this consulting is educating people about cultural differences. Part of those cultural differences is a dimension of culture called Uncertainty Avoidance.
Time and again people to whom I explain this dimension find it very difficult to understand.
Typically because it deals with rules. And when we think of rules, most of us think of “official” and “formal” rules, like the maximum speed on the highway for instance or the book of law.
But in any given society, the majority of the rules are not official or regulated by law so to speak.
For instance, wearing a tie when you go to work is not official in terms of the law. The shaking hands that some cultures do when people meet is not official. The ordering, opening, pouring, and tasting of a bottle of wine is not an official rule.
In other words, most rules that we have in our society are unofficial (do we kiss, bow or shake hands?). Meaning that if you don’t follow that rule, you won’t go to jail for it, and you won’t get fined by the police.
The only thing that happens is that people from the culture where this “rule” should be followed will wonder why you’re not following that “rule”.
I wrote this book to better explain this cultural dimension because I think it is one of the more hidden factors of culture when we’re dealing with different cultures and working internationally. Plus it not only covers official and unofficial rules & regulations. There is much more to it.