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Argentina Business Etiquette & Culture

           

Argentina Introduction

Argentina has a population of 33 Million with an ethnic composition of 85 percent European descent, primarily Spanish or Italian. Indians, mestizos (people of mixed Indian and Spanish ancestry), and blacks together make up the remaining 15 percent. The Republic of Argentina is a democracy for now, but has had a long history of military power.

Spanish is the official language, although many people speak English, Italian, or other languages. Argentine Spanish is heavily influenced by Italian and is unlike Spanish spoken anywhere in Latin America. Church and state are officially separate, but about 90 percent of the population considers itself Roman Catholic. Jews and Protestants account for 2 percent each.

 

Argentina Fun Fact

Argentina is the homeland the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church known as the Bishop of Rome. Jorge Bergoglio, is the first Pope selected from outside Europe in over 100 years and the first from the Americas. He will be known as Pope Francis. The longtime Bishop of Buenos Aires, the new Pope spent the majority of his career at home in Argentina with his roots in the Jesuit Order. As the Cardinal of Buenos Aires, he was known for humility, doctrinal conservatism and a commitment to social justice.

Argentina is a country of wide-open pampas and ancient forests, in addition to very sophisticated cities, such as its capital, Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires, has the largest number of Jews in Latin America; they are commonly referred to as los rusos (the Russians) because most of the early Jewish settlers emigrated from Czarist Russia. Argentina was the first Latin American country to send a contingent to the Middle East during the Persian Gulf War.


Geert Hofstede Analysis for Argentina


The Geert Hofstede analysis for Argentina is similar to it’s Latin American neighbors. Uncertainty avoidance ranks highest which indicates a high concern for rules, regulations, controls and issues with career security – typically, a society that does not readily accept change and is risk adverse. Individualism ranks lowest which signifies a society of a more collectivist nature and strong relationships where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of their group. 

Argentina is similar to many of the Latin American countries in analysis of the Hofstede Dimensions (see Latin America Hofstede Graph below). In reviewing the data, there appears to be a correlation between Argentina’s culture and religion, as explained below.

The high Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) ranking of 86 indicates the society’s low level of tolerance for uncertainty. In an effort to minimize or reduce this level of uncertainty, strict rules, laws, policies, and regulations are adopted and implemented. The ultimate goal of this population is to control everything in order to eliminate or avoid the unexpected. As a result of this high Uncertainty Avoidance characteristic, the society does not readily accept change and is very risk adverse.

In many of the Latin American countries, including Argentina, the population is predominantly Catholic (see Religions Graph below). The combination of Catholicism and the cultural dimensions shown in the Hofstede Graph above, reinforce a philosophy predicated in the belief that there is an absolute ‘Truth”. As Geert Hofstede explains about peoples with a high Uncertainty Avoidance Index, their attitude is, “There can only be one Truth and we have it.”

Based on our studies and data, the large majority of predominantly Catholic countries (those with Uncertainty Avoidance as their highest ranking Dimension) have a low tolerance for ambiguity. This creates a highly rule-oriented society that institutes laws, rules, regulations, and controls in order to reduce the amount of uncertainty within the population. Geert Hofstede Information

Written by Stephen Taylor - the Sigma Two Group

 

Religion in Argentina


* WORLD FACTBOOK 2011

In a country that has over 50% of its population practicing the Catholic religion, we found the primary correlating Hofstede Dimension to be Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI). There were only 2 countries out of 23 that did not follow this correlation, they were Ireland and the Philippines. (See the accompanying article)

 

Argentina Appearance

International Business Dress and Appearance  Dress is very important for making a good impression in Argentina; your entire wardrobe will be scrutinized. Business dress is conservative: dark suits and ties for men; white blouses and dark suits or skirts for women. Indian clothing is for Indians -- don’t adopt any native costumes!

International Business Dress and Appearance  Maintaining eye contact is very important

International Business Dress and Appearance  A pat on the shoulder is a sign of friendship

International Business Dress and Appearance  A sweeping gesture beginning under the chin and continuing up over the top of the head is used to mean "I don’t know" or "I don’t care"

  With thumb and finger touching (as if holding a pinch of salt), one taps them with the index finger to indicate "hurry up" or "a lot"

International Business Dress and Appearance  Make sure to cover your mouth when yawning or coughing

International Business Dress and Appearance  Don’t put your feet up on any furniture

International Business Dress and Appearance  Eating in the street or on public transportation is considered rude

 

Argentina Behavior 

  Prior appointments are necessary

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Argentine executives may put in a very long day, often lasting until 10:00 p.m.. An 8:00 p.m. business meeting is not unusual

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Business dinners are popular and are usually held in restaurants; business lunches are uncommon outside of Buenos Aires, since most people go home to eat lunch

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Tender beef and red wine virtual national symbols. American beef and red wine compare poorly to theirs

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Long meals and conversation is the norm. Crossing the knife and fork signal "I am finished". Never pour wine back-handed; it’s considered impolite. When dining, keep your hands on the table, not in your lap

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Gifts to be avoided include personal items such as ties and shirts, leather, and knives. High taxes on imported liquor make this a highly appreciated gift; the most popular are scotch and French champagne

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture Considering sending a gift to someone in Argentina, see gifts to Argentia

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  If the visitor is entertained in the Argentine home, he/she should arrange to send flowers or candy to his hostess. Bird-of-paradise flowers are highly prized

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  A guest should always wait for the host to sit down before sitting, and to open the door for him before leaving

 

Argentina Communications 

  Handshaking common when meeting for the first time

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Titles, especially among the elderly, are very important. Address a person directly by using his or her title only. A Ph.D or a physician is called Doctor. Teachers prefer the title Profesor, engineers go by Ingeniero, architects are Arquitecto, and lawyers are Abogado. Persons who do not have professional titles should be addressed as Mr., Mrs., or Miss, plus their surnames. In Spanish these are:

  • Mr. = Senor
  • Mrs. = Senora
  • Miss = Senorita

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Most Hispanics have two surnames: one from their father, which is listed first, followed by one from their mother. Only the father’s surname is used when addressing someone

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Italian and German second and third languages

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Good conversation topics: soccer, history, culture, home and children, opera

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Bad conversation topics: the Peron years, religion, Falkland Islands conflict

 

Doing Business in Argentina

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Argentines are tough negotiators. Concessions will not come quickly or easily. Good relationships with counterparts will shorten negotiations.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Contracts are lengthy and detailed. A contract is not final until all of its elements are signed. Any portion can be re-negotiated. Get everything in writing.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   An Argentine contact is essential to wading through government bureaucracy.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Be punctual for business appointments, but prepare to wait thirty minutes for your counterpart, especially if you are meeting an important person.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   The pace of business in Argentina is slower than in the United States. A meeting that is going well could last much longer than intended, even if it means postponing the next engagement.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Personal relationships are important and must be developed before business is done.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Argentines often need several meetings and extensive discussion to make deals.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Decisions are made at the top. Try to arrange meeting with high-level personnel.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Guests at a meeting are greeted and escorted to their chairs. The visiting senior executive is seated opposite the Argentine senior executive.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   During business meetings, sustain a relaxed manner, maintain eye contact and restrict the use of gestures. Don’t take a hard sell approach.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Be prepared for a certain amount of small talk before getting down to business.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Make appointments through a high-level person. Your Argentine contact can help with this.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Confirm meetings one week in advance.

 

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