by Marjolein Hinfelaar, adapted by Prue Gargano
Although not every enterprise has branches in other countries, just about every company will have dealings with foreign suppliers or customers at some stage. When it does, it will very likely be faced with all kinds of dilemmas.
Some of these will be linguistic dilemmas: for example, what is the language of communication? Others will be related to differences in legal systems: is business carried out via e-mail legally valid? And what about the other company's expectations? Does it rely on us to arrange for transportation and insurance? Can we rely on it to fulfil the delivery and payment arrangements that have been made? What about different approaches to the business of doing business: is it rude to contact the other firm if delivery is a day overdue? Should we go there and do business in person, or is this unnecessary?
One thing is certain: there will be as many answers to these questions as there are countries. However, if you want to know whether you are on the right course, first take a good look at your experiences on the home front. If your colleagues and the companies you deal with at home have trouble understanding what you want and when you want it, you cannot expect your foreign contacts to be any better. Good clear communication is always an essential, no matter where you go.