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LOCAL CULTURE

From a local culture perspective, not wanting to lose face is often an issue that comes up, and very often admitting to having risks in your workplace is considered a failure to do your job successfully. This being the case, it is not unusual to find that certain parts of the organization like to portray themselves as having no risks.

Another key factor tends to be the fact that nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news, which goes back to losing face. There have been instances where people turned up for a meeting but key individuals ended up not attending. No advanced warning was given by these key individuals, as it would have required them to "reject" the invitation, which is seen as negative.

Local culture is also very tribal, with a director having varying degrees of respect from employees or other directors based on their family ties. This can be a key area of opportunity for a risk management team trying to get buy-in for risk management if the team can capture the attention of the right directors. Tribalism also translates very often into the supply chain, where much of the supply chain is made up of regional players. While this can be advantageous in terms of having a good relationship with suppliers and allowing organizations to know who they are dealing with, it also opens up a huge risk of potential fraud.

There have been a few cases of fraud in Iraq and Kuwait that involved theft of oil through supply chains/relationships, or sabotage of foreign diesel shipments being delivered to project sites in order to ensure that organizations could get diesel only from local tribes.

It is important also to note that culturally, things move slowly and there is rarely a sense of urgency in getting work done; the locals prefer to put family, customs, and traditions first. What might seem like straightforward contract negotiations to more Western cultures will end up in long discussions and negotiations on various minor points of a deal over several long meetings. While this may seem counterproductive and unacceptable in Western organizations, it plays a key part in building up trust among business partners and allows for more flexibility and easier negotiations during later stages of a deal.

 
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