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How Understanding Culture Is the Secret to International Project Success


Estimated reading time: 3 minutes



How Understanding Culture Is the Secret to International Project Success


As globalisation grows today, project management in today’s world increases in complexity. Technological issues, infrastructure and environmental factors are all examples of the impacts of globalisation on projects. There is also an increased global competition and the search for a sustainable competitive advantage grows in importance. Hence, it is important for project managers to adapt to today’s demands by having the right skill sets.

Culture also plays a huge role when dealing with international business deals, as culture profoundly influences how people think, communicate, and behave. The great diversity of the world’s cultures makes it impossible for any project manager, no matter how skilled and experienced, to understand fully all the cultures that may be encountered. Cultural competence can help you impress international business partners and avoid making costly mistakes that would otherwise, cause the deal to fall through.


The Role of Culture

When dealing with international projects, your understanding of culture will affect the project’s success. This includes your ability to enter a local market, develop and maintain business relationships, negotiate successful deals, conduct sales, conduct marketing and advertising campaigns, and engage in manufacturing and distribution.

The failure to recognise the impacts of culture will result to sending the wrong signals and messages to the other party, which results in more disruption and delays to the project timeline. In fact, there are numerous instances in which deals would have been successfully completed if finalizing them had been based on business issues alone, but cultural miscommunications interfered.

When you can understand that the history and politics of any country or region largely affects the way businesses are done, you are at an advantage. As each person considers their culture as being most important, it largely shapes the way negotiations and contracts are made. Having a good understanding of this not only helps you achieve project success but allows a more symbiotic business relationship between you and your partner.

For example, different cultures view negotiations differently. Some see the goal of a business negotiation is to achieve a signed contract between the parties, while some may view it as a first step to forming the business relationship between the two parties. Hence, this sets the foundation of the business relationship. When dealing with international projects, it is therefore important to determine how the other party views the purpose of the meeting to achieve a more successful business relationship.


International Project Manager is a 3-day AAPM-accredited training course held from 25-27 February 2019 (Kuala Lumpur), 25-27 March 2019 (Perth), 15-17 April 2019 (Kuala Lumpur), designed for delegates to gain an essential understanding of international business and the role of international projects and their management. The course will cover key issues of international finances, international contracts, project risk management and more.


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