Entertaining for Business Success
Business entertaining is usually a social event and so the best policy is to let your host initiate any discussion of business. It’s important that you make gestures to demonstrate to your Argentine companions that a relationship with them is a greater priority than business. People who focus solely on work-related matters will not make friends or succeed in business here. Business entertaining usually takes place at major restaurants and hotels. Customarily, the host or the most senior man present will be seated at the head of the table, with the guest of honor at his immediate right. The next seat of honor will be to the immediate right of either the hostess or the second-highest ranking Argentine.
Argentines emphasize good table manners and will observe how you measure up. The continental style of dining is a must. It is necessary to always keep your hands visible when dining, with your wrists resting on the edge of the table. It is polite to accept everything that you are served. If you come across something that you don’t like, just take a sample bite or two for the sake of politeness. Wine should be poured with the right hand. Before smoking, it’s considered polite to
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Argentine society in general is very status conscious. Great emphasis is placed on what social class you belong to, which university you went to, where you are from and where you live now. In such a class conscious society, it is hardly surprising that all local business structures would tend to be extremely hierarchical. Argentine companies are often what are usually referred to as relationship driven hierarchies which means that the chain of command as outlined in a published organization chart will not necessarily correspond exactly to the actual internal structure of the business.
Who reports to whom and at which point in the chain the decisions are made could depend as much on a complex web of relationships and obligations as it might on the title of an individual. It is usually a very good idea to have a local guide to help you through this complexity – if you haven’t got that local guide, be very observant. As you would expect in such a hierarchically driven culture, it is important that you are dealing with the right person within an organization as relatively less power will have been devolved than might be expected in a more matrix organization. Do not waste time negotiating with the wrong people.
If I sum up some of the main things a businessman has to be careful about when doing business in Argentina. First of all, personal relationships are important and must be developed before business is done. Argentines are tough negotiators, so concessions will not come quickly or easily, but good relationships with counterparts will shorten negotiations. Be punctual for business appointments, but prepare to wait thirty minutes for your counterpart, especially if you are meeting an important person.
The pace of business in Argentina is slower than in the Western Europe, so be prepared that a meeting that is going well could last much longer than intended, even if it means postponing the next engagement. Decisions are made at the top, so try to arrange meeting with high-level personnel. Be prepared for a certain amount of small talk before getting down to business and confirm meetings one week in advance. These are some of the main characteristics of doing business in Argentina. If a person is sensitive to culture diversities, than doing business in Argentina should not be a problem.
1. Lewis, R. D. (2005). When Cultures Collide: Leading Across Cultures (3rd ed.). Boston: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
2. Communicaid. Doing Business in Argentina/Argentinian Social and Business Culture. Retrieved January 11, 2009, from web site: http://www.communicaid.com/access/pdf/library/culture/doing-business-in/Doing%20Business%20in%20Argentina.pdf.
3. International Business Etiquette and Manners. Retrieved January 15, 2009, from web site: http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/argentina.htm.
4. World Business Culture. Retrieved January 16, 2009, from web site: http://www.worldbusinessculture.com/Argentine-Business-Structures.html.