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Venezuela Business Etiquette & Culture

Venezuela etiquette, manners,  gift giving, protocol, culture, and more                     Venezuela etiquette and manners

 

 Venezuela Introduction

The population of Venezuela is 20.2 Million with an ethnic makeup of 70 percent mestizo, and the rest – Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, and African. Only 2 percent of the population is pure-blooded Amerindian. The capital of Caracas, has approximately 3.2 Million people within its city limits.

Venezuela is a federal multiparty republic, with a president who is both chief of state and head of government. The cabinet, or Council of Ministers, has twenty-six members. There is a bicameral congress, composed of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, and the judiciary is represented by the Supreme Court. Elections are held every five years.

The official language is Spanish. English and a variety of Amerindian dialects are spoken. There is no official religion, but the vast majority of people are Roman Catholic (96 percent).  

 

 Venezuela Fun Fact

In Venezuela, there are two generations with distinct differences doing business. The older generation will want to get to know you personally first, rather than your company or firm. The younger generation may have been educated in the United States and will typically want to relate more to your business dealings or company, rather than to you personally. Columbus discovered the area of Venezuela in 1498.


Geert Hofstede Analysis for Venezuela


The Geert Hofstede analysis for Latin American countries indicate a high level of uncertainty avoidance, large power distance, and low individualism. This is indicative of a society that has a high concern for rules, regulations, and controls, is slow to accept change, and is risk adverse. There is a high emphasis placed on close ties with individuals, or relationships, whereby everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of their group. There are significant inequalities of power and wealth within the society.

While Venezuela is similar to other Latin American countries when analyzing Hofstede's Dimensions, it does has unique characteristics by possessing extremes in all four Hofstede Dimensions - three on the high end of the scale and one on the low end. The first significant exception is that unlike all other Latin countries, except Panama, Venezuela's highest Dimension ranking is not Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI).

Venezuela's highest ranking Dimension is Power Distance (PDI) with an 81, compared to an average of 70 for the average of all other Latin countries. This is indicative of a high level of inequality of power and wealth within the society. This condition is not necessarily subverted upon the population, but rather accepted by the culture as a whole.

Venezuela's Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) of 76 is slightly below the Latin average of 80, indicating 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.

Venezuela has the highest Masculinity ranking among the Latin countries at 73, compared to an average of 48. This indicates the country experiences a higher degree of gender differentiation of roles. The male dominates a significant portion of the society and power structure. This situation generates a female population that becomes more assertive and competitive, although not at the level of the male population.

Venezuela has a very low Individualism (IDV) ranking at 12, compared to other Latin countries(average of 21). The score on this Dimension indicates the society is strongly Collectivist as compared to Individualist. This is manifest in a close long-term commitment to the member 'group', be that a family, extended family, or extended relationships. Loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount, and over-rides most other societal rules and regulations. The society fosters strong relationships where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of their group

In many of the Latin American countries, including Venezuela, 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, “There can only be one Truth and we have it.”More Geert Hofstede Details

Written by Stephen Taylor - the Sigma Two Group

 

Religion in Venezuela


* 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 accompanying Article)

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.

 

 Venezuela Appearance

International Business Dress and Appearance   Dress for men is conservative – dark business suits of tropical weight wool

International Business Dress and Appearance   Fashion is very important to Venezuelan women. Women should pack their best business clothes and one cocktail dress

International Business Dress and Appearance   People tend to stand very close together when conversing. Venezuelans often touch each other’s arms or jacket during conversation

International Business Dress and Appearance   Posture while seated is important; avoid slouching

 

 Venezuela Behavior 

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Business people are punctual and small talk is minimal

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  It is good practice to follow up morning appointments with an invitation to lunch

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Have business cards printed in English on one side and Spanish on the other. Be sure your position is clearly indicated and present your card immediately following an introduction

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Unlike lunch, dinner is for socializing, not for business

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Businesswomen should be aware that going out alone with Venezuelan businessmen may be misconstrued

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  The two senior executives should sit facing each other

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  When dining, wait until everyone is served before beginning to eat

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Guests rarely sit at the head of the table

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  To indicate you have finished eating, place your utensils in parallel and diagonally across your plate

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  An appropriate gift for a man is something for the office - such as a good quality pen. A women would appreciate the gift of an orchid – the national flower

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Guests may bring or send flowers or candy to a hostess

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  The senior visiting business person may give a toast offering good wishes for business negotiations, adding a memorized Spanish phrase about the pleasure of being with Venezuelans

 

 Venezuela Communications 

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Handshaking by both sexes common and customary; shake hands on greeting and departing. The handshake is firm

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Good friends hug and women kiss cheeks

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Avoid dominating the conversation. Venezuelans like to be in control

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Titles are important and should be included on business cards. Address a person directly by using his or her title only. A Ph.D.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   Good conversation topics: business, art, literature, history

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions   Bad conversation topics: local unrest, inflation, politics

 

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