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Cross Cultural Management Guide for The Dominican Republic

The information offered below is for managers who want to learn more about the management style and business culture of the Dominican Republic.

It provides some useful information for managers who are relocating to the country for employment as well as those who may have Dominican employees in their global or multicultural teams.

Topics include:

  • Hierarchy
  • Face
  • Leadership style
  • Time
  • Communication style
  • Negotiation

Being a Manager in the Dominican Republic

There is a small group of business elites, usually descendants of the Spanish settlers, who influence and control the business environment. You may find that:

  • This small circle can be closed to outsiders, making it imperative that you develop and maintain a broad network of contacts.
  • Networking is an important part of the business culture since it broadens your base of contacts, and therefore, people who can smooth the way for you.
  • To achieve successful management, you need to understand that this is a country where knowing the right person is often more important than what you know.
  • Nepotism is a very common practice in the Dominican Republic and is generally considered acceptable. 
  • Bureaucracy can sometimes be confusing and may not always be standardised. 

The Role of a Manager

Successful management will be more easily established when working in the Dominican Republic if you bear in mind that each person has a very distinct role within the organization, and maintaining that role helps to keep order. When working in this business culture, you may find that:

  • People believe that their supervisors have been chosen because they have more experience and greater knowledge than those they manage, and it is, therefore, unnecessary, and even inappropriate for them to consult with lower-ranking individuals when decision-making.
  • In the Dominican Republic, as in other hierarchical societies, managers may take a somewhat paternalistic attitude toward their employees.
  • They may demonstrate a concern for employees that goes beyond the workplace and strictly professional concerns.
  • This may include involvement in their family, housing, health, and other practical life issues.

Approach to Change

The Dominican Republic’s readiness for change is developing all the time. This country is seen to have a medium tolerance for change and risk. What might this mean for new ventures or change projects?:

  • It's essential that proposed changes are underpinned by the value that this will bring to the company.
  • The benefits should be well-researched and fully outlined if stakeholders are to come on board. 
  • The fear of exposure, and the potential for embarrassment that may accompany failure, bring about an aversion to risk and because of this attitude, cultural sensitivity is going to be required.
  • Failure can be viewed as a personal shortcoming and can cause a long-term loss of confidence by the individual as well as by the group.

Approach to Time and Priorities

Deadlines and timescales are fluid in the Dominican Republic, as such, patience will play an essential part in successful cross-cultural management.

  • While timescales and deadlines need to be set well in advance and reiterated carefully, it should be understood that these will be viewed as flexible.
  • Global working means that some managers may have a greater appreciation of the need to enforce timescales and as such, agreed deadlines are more likely to be met.

Decision Making

Managers’ interpersonal skills and ability to maintain cordial relationships with their subordinates can be as important as their technical knowledgeThe business culture makes it likely that:

  • Employees may be praised for their individual achievements or accomplishments, but this is generally done in private.
  • Likewise, correcting or admonishing employees should be done in private.
  • Subordinates will often work together to solve a problem before it comes to the attention of their manager.
  • Shielding the manager from bad news allows subordinates to maintain their professional reputation, which is important.

Boss or Team Player?

If you are working with people from the Dominican Republic, it is important to remember the role that hierarchy plays in teamwork and collaboration.

  • Traditionally, the supervisor is seen to hold that position because of superior knowledge and skills.
  • It would traditionally have been unthinkable for someone of a higher position to collaborate with, or ask ideas of someone of a lower status.
  • Successful managers will recognize that teamwork is becoming increasingly important in most organizations where they believe the best ideas and solutions often come from having many people meet to discuss an issue.

Communication and Negotiation Styles

Effective communication will take into account the Dominicans aversion to risk and the importance they place on developing relationships:

  • It is crucial that you spend time building the relationship: in the office, over extended lunches, dinners, and outside the office at social outings.
  • Appearances matter and although it is not necessary to speak Spanish, attempting to do so is greatly appreciated.
  • The Dominicans are skilled negotiators and drive hard bargains.
  • Remember they bargain with people and not companies.

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