Essay: South African Business Culture

By Samuel Smith –

What do you know about business culture in South Africa? Does it differ from American business culture? When you have decided to do business in South Africa, it is smart to learn something new about the culture of the local people. You will never succeed in business if you do not know about their lifestyle, traditions and everyday life. Frankly speaking, we know little about South Africa, its people and culture; therefore, we ought to learn at least several basic rules, which will help us establish profitable business contacts with South African businesses.

In my opinion, it is important to know about the structure of the local society, its traditions and a few peculiarities of its business etiquette. Firstly, I would like to write a few words about the specific hierarchy of South African society. When you decide to analyze business in South Africa, you will see that the entire economy of the state is dominated by big corporations. Naturally, every big corporation embraces a great number of small enterprises. This structure resembles a pyramid, though there are more and more firms and small companies, which exist independently. Of course, there are definite reasons for this specific structure. South Africa is known to be a kind of a collectivist culture. In simple words, people prefer living and working in groups than individually. It will be difficult to a foreigner to get used to this mentality. For example, a common American citizen is an individualist who has his own ambitions, expectations and plans. His own profit is his priority.

When you want to start your own business or work for a large corporation in South Africa, you ought to understand that personal relations are more important that the financial ones. You will never find a job in a good firm if you do not possess any recommendations or introductions from another South African company. The local entrepreneurs want to know who they are dealing with. Therefore, do not be surprised when you see that your meeting will be informal.

When you go to your first business meeting, your main duty is to establish personal contacts. Your projects and business ideas are subordinate in this case. Remember that you should come to every meeting on time. It is even better to come a few minutes earlier in order to show that you are reliable and punctual professional who appreciates time. South African entrepreneurs enjoy business lunches. Be ready to discuss business issues during a meal. Remember that it is not polite to leave food on your plate. You should eat everything you put on your plate. Moreover, you will be viewed oddly if you are a vegetarian, because South Africa is a country, which is famous for its meat cuisine. Bear in mind that you should exchange business cards at the beginning of the meeting.

You should know that you must not organize business meetings from mid-December to mid-January, because South Africans have holidays at that time. Moreover, pay attention to such holidays as Easter and the most important Jewish holidays.

When you think about the proper dress code, you should know that South Africans prefer formal clothes. You ought to wear a suit with a tie and a light shirt. If you do not wear a jacket, you ought to have a light shirt with the long sleeves. Women should wear formal dresses or skirts. Pantsuits are not conventional in the business culture of this country.

Remember that South Africans respect the elderly people. They are supposed to be wise and influential. When you have elder companions in your company, you ought to demonstrate your respect towards them. Men and women have practically the same rights and opportunities though very often, female employees are treated as inferior to male employees.

If English is your native language, you can be calm about the process of communication, because nearly every South African businessperson speaks English fluently.

Business culture in South Africa is quite rich and specific. If you want to impress your business partners and win their credit and respect, you ought to demonstrate your deep knowledge of their traditions, character and lifestyle.

This Business essay written by SmartWritingService is provided by Samuel Smith, one of freelance academic writers.

Source: Africa Business

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