Business culture in Iran, seen with Hofstede’s cultural dimensions

Doing business in Iran strikes many international companies new to the country as rather difficult. The market is still traditional and market research is not as advanced and is embraced less enthusiastically in Iran.

Take a careful approach

Globalisation is easier thought than done and companies new to Iran should be very careful about any actions they are making, consciously or not. Some actions which seem completely logical may be the most dangerous.

Being a well-established international company remains an asset but has never been a guarantee of success in Iran. There is no example of any international companies who ventured into Iran market successfully without conducting marketing research.

Understanding Iranian people

If you want to be successful in doing business in Iran then you must understand the people. Iranian consumers are often poles apart from their Western counterparts.

There are many details you must be sensitive to. Colors that are appealing in your nation may turn people off in Iran. Symbols can have very different meanings or nuances as well and a brand logo or brand name might not have well implications in Iran.

How to deal with your local staff?

Interpersonal relationships are especially crucial in Iran and business-government ties more palpable. Negotiation styles may seem byzantine compared to western styles.

Although there are many extraordinary people in Iran. Employee turnover can be extremely high and fluent English and graduation from a prestigious Western university are not assurances that a new recruit will make a qualified employee or remain with a company for long.

Hofstede’s cross-country cultural differences explored

To give you a clear understanding of the business culture of Iran. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions is used to understand cross-country cultural differences:

Power Distance: This dimension expresses the degree to which the less powerful members of a society accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. People in societies exhibiting a large degree of power distance accept a hierarchical order.

Iran can be categorized as high power distance society which means hierarchical order in most of the Iranian organizations is accepted where everybody has a place and there is no need for further justification of inequalities among people.

Individualism versus Collectivism: Iran is in the high side of this dimension which is called individualism and people are expected to take care of only themselves and their core families. So the Iranian society can be defined as a loosely-knit social framework. Iranian people’s self-image is defined in terms of “I” rather than “we.”

Masculinity versus Femininity: Masculinity versus Femininity can be related to as “tough versus gender” cultures.

There is a preference in the Iranian society for achievement, heroism, assertiveness and material rewards for success and people seem to be more competitive. The society is less cooperative and modest

Uncertainty Avoidance: Iran is a country of principles where people show strong rigid codes of belief. Countries which exhibits this behavior are intolerant of radical and irregular behaviors and ideas. In comparison societies which exhibits weak uncertainty avoidance maintain a more relaxed attitude in which practice counts more than principles

Long Term Orientation versus Short Term Normative Orientation:

In the business context this dimension is related to as “(short term) normative versus (long term) pragmatic. Iranian society who scores low on this dimension, prefers to maintain time-honored traditions and norms while viewing societal change with suspicion. However many people in Iran encourage efforts in modern education as a way to prepare for the future

Indulgence versus Restraint: Iran is more of a Restraint country in which the majority try to regulate gratification of needs by means of strict principles and religious norms. In comparison Indulgence stands for a society that allows relatively free gratification of basic and natural human drives related to enjoying life and having fun.

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