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Chile Business Etiquette, Culture, & Manners

 

                          

Chile Introduction

Chile has a population of nearly 14 million people with almost 5 million located in the capital city, Santiago. It has an ethnic composition of 95 percent mestizo (of mixed European and Indian blood), 3 percent Indian (mostly Araucanian), and less than 2 percent are solely of European descent. Because of the geography of the area, the country has experienced a large degree of isolation and, as a result, is more ethnically homogeneous than most of South America. The Republic of Chile is a multiparty republic with two legislative houses, the 48-seat Senate and the 120-seat Chamber of Deputies. The president is the chief of state as well as the head of government.

The official language is Spanish, although English is spoken by well-educated business people and in tourist centers. There is no official religion, however approximately 78 percent identify themselves as Roman Catholics, and about 13 percent are Protestants. There is a large number of people that consider themselves atheist.

 

Chile Fun Fact

Chile is the world’s longest country – north to south. Chileans have a renowned reputation for achievement in many cultural fields. Literature, social science, and fine arts are considered prestigious areas of study. Family respect and loyalty are primary concerns in Chile, even taking precedence over business responsibilities. Chile has a stellar track record for international trade. As an exporting nation, Chile competes with countries beyond its Latin American neighborhood. Chile was ranked 18th out of the 49 most competitive economies in the world by the 1996 World Competitiveness Report published by the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland. It exports more than 3,800 diverse products to more than 170 markets worldwide. 

 

Geert Hofstede Analysis for Chile


The Geert Hofstede analysis for Chile is similar to it’s Latin American neighbors. Uncertainty avoidance ranks highest which indicates a high concern for rules, regulations, controls and issues with career security – typically, a society that does not readily accept change and is risk adverse. Individualism ranks lowest which signifies a society of a more collectivist nature and strong relationships where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of their group.

Chile is similar to many Latin American countries when analyzing Hofstede's Dimensions.

Chile's highest Hofstede Dimension is Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) at 86, 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.

Chile has a low Individualism (IDV) rank of 23, as do most Latin countries. The score on this Dimension indicates the society is 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 Chile, the population is predominantly Catholic (see Religions Graph below). The combination of Catholicism and the cultural dimensions shown in the Hofstede Graphs above, reinforce a philosophy predicated in the belief that there is an absolute ‘Truth”. As Geert Hofstede explains about peoples with a high Uncertainty Avoidance Index, their attitude is, “There can only be one Truth and we have it.” More on Geert Hofstede

Written by Stephen Taylor - the Sigma Two Group

 

Religion in Chile


* 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)

 

Appearance in Chile

International Business Dress and Appearance   Men customarily wear dark blue or gray suit, a light shirt, and a conservative tie. Bright colors and flashy fashions are not suitable, nor is wearing anything on the lapel. Women should wear a suit and heels

International Business Dress and Appearance   Men should note that when a woman enters a room, the polite gesture is to rise and be prepared to shake her hand if she offers it. A seated woman, however, need not rise nor is she obliged to offer her hand

International Business Dress and Appearance   Chileans converse in close proximity to one another

International Business Dress and Appearance   Maintaining eye contact is necessary to show interest and sincerity

International Business Dress and Appearance   At a meal, keep your hands above the table at all times

International Business Dress and Appearance   Yawns should be stifled or covered with the hand

International Business Dress and Appearance   Holding the palm upward and then spreading the fingers signals that someone is "stupid"

International Business Dress and Appearance   Slapping your right fist into your left open palm is considered obscene

International Business Dress and Appearance   Do not raise your right fist to head level, as this is a Communist sign

 

Behavior in Chile 

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Prior appointments are necessary

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  In business, punctuality respected. Meetings should start and end on time

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Have business cards printed with English on one side and Spanish on the other. Present cards to everyone in a meeting except secretaries

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Business entertaining generally is done at major hotels and restaurants

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Light conversation is customary before business discussions

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Don’t serve wine with your left hand. Wines, especially white wines, are a national treasure

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Proper table manners are important

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Women have advanced in professions in Chile, more so than in most other Latin countries. However, they will be at a slight disadvantage because of the machismo ethnic that continues to exist

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Gifts are not expected in business until the relationship is a close one

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Chileans do not bargain in either stores or street markets. It is illegal to sell something and not issue a receipt

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Considering sending a gift to someone in Chile? See gifts to Chile

 

Communications in Chile 

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  With first introductions, a handshake is the custom

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Male Chileans may greet each other with hearty hugs, with women customarily kissing each other on the cheek

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 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: families, children, Easter Island, history

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Bad conversation topics: politics, human rights, 1988 grape export scare

 

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