International Business: Different Country’s Ethical Traditions

When you are conducting business with someone from another country, it is important to understand that some of their cultural and ethical norms will differ from yours. Nowadays, many countries can primarily use dedicated internet access to conduct business, but that might not be the case in all countries. If you are able to appreciate these differences, and play to them in the course of a business transaction, then you have a much better chance of gaining a repeat customer, and obtaining referrals from them as well. Below, you will find a few specific examples of how business ethics vary from place to place. However, it is always a good idea to do research about the country where you will be conducting business since there are sometimes major differences between cultures even in the same geographic area.


Doing business in China can give you and your business access to the world’s most populous country. In order to keep that business though, you should always be thinking about making sure your customer stays comfortable with your business arrangement. Typically, Chinese customers will want a certain amount of mutual respect between both parties. One of the best ways to do this is to negotiate the price of your deal in such a way that allows the customer to gain some ground in negotiations, while still allowing for a healthy profit for you. Demanding a firm price, even if it is fair, may leave your customer feeling dishonored because they did not even get the chance to gain a little bit of ground.

Saudi Arabia

Business ethics in Saudi Arabia may seem quite a bit different than what you are used to in the Western world. When you are doing business with a customer or company in Saudi Arabia, it is often important to be there face-to-face. While a deal can get done through the phone or email, Saudis don’t feel as though they get the same level of trust from you as they would if you were in front of them. This allows them to display their business ethics to you personally, which may mean the difference between making a deal or not. This concept goes even deeper into business customs with the fact that company leaders in Saudi Arabia are far more likely to use family or personal connections to get what they need, as opposed to a totally open system where the supplier or seller is dictated by who has the best price.


Punctuality is key when it comes to doing business in Germany. Wasting time is looked down upon when it is time to negotiate terms of a sale. While they will not be outright rude, if they feel that your business is wasting their time, German customers will not hesitate to back out of negotiations completely. Keeping this in mind, it is essential that your presentations and papers are to the point and that you don’t have a lot of filler in them. Seniority is also extremely important in Germany as they may respond better to someone older in negotiations as opposed to someone perceived to be younger.

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