• +44 0330 027 0207
  • +1 (818) 532-6908
Cultural diversity management elearning course


Discover what it takes to manage culturally diverse teams.

This Introduction to Cross Cultural Management eLearning Course teaches essential insights and strategies.

Get started in minutes!


Cross Cultural Management Guide for Iraq

The guide below is for managers who want to learn more about the management style and business culture of Iraq.

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

Topics include:

  • Hierarchy
  • Leadership style
  • Time and scheduling
  • Communication style/li>
  • Negotiation

Being a Manager in Iraq

To ensure successful management in Iraq, you need to be aware of the strict protocols and rituals that exist. In business, it is important to maintain a degree of formality. Older Iraqis and those in senior positions should be treated with respect and deference.

  • Iraq is undergoing a period of transition post-invasion by the USA - it's important to take into account the upheaval that the country has seen.
  • Most of the country’s political, social, physical, and economic infrastructures are in the process of being rebuilt.
  • Due to the number of foreign companies involved in the reconstruction of the country, the business culture has been influenced a little by Western practices.
  • Although a local agent is not technically required to conduct business in the country, you will benefit from having an Iraqi representative or partner who knows the country and can win local support.
  • It can be difficult for foreigners to function in the north without the support of local Kurdish leaders, in the centre of the country without Sunni Muslim support, and in the south of the country without Shi’ite Muslim support.

The Role of a Manager

In Iraq, 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.
  • This may include involvement in their family, housing, health, and other practical life issues.
  • A manager in Iraqi culture is seen as an authority figure - one to be obeyed.

Approach to Change

Iraq’s cultural adaptability and readiness for change is low. This means that change is difficult to bring about and is not received with any enthusiasm.

  • Projects will need to be carefully analyzed every step of the way to assure that all the risks have been assessed and understood.
  • Failure in Iraq causes a long-term loss of confidence in the individual as well as in others.
  • Because of this attitude, cultural sensitivity is going to be required, especially when conducting group meetings and discussing contributions made by participating individuals.

Approach to Time and Priorities

Iraq is a fluid time culture, and as is the case with many fluid time cultures, it is also very relationship-oriented. Culturally, this means that relationships are prioritised over time.

  • If you are in a meeting, then you may find that other people walk into the meeting room uninvited and that your host happily sits and chats to them for a while.
  • Your host may also take calls during a meeting.
  • This is not intended to be rude. It merely demonstrates the priority given to one’s relationships.
  • People in Iraq will not want to upset others in order to force adherence to a deadline, and while appointments and schedules need to be set well in advance as a sign of respect for the individual, you need to understand that those schedules are seen as flexible, not necessarily needing to be adhered to.
  • When working with people from Iraq, it’s advisable to reinforce the importance of the agreed-upon deadlines and how that may affect the rest of the organization.

Decision Making

In general, business retains a strong hierarchical structure.

  • Employees show respect to those in positions of authority.
  • Managers tend to be dictatorial and autocratic.
  • They expect their subordinates to follow established procedures without question.
  • In a business sense, this means that employees are less likely to show initiative and complete tasks outside of their remit.
  • If they haven’t been overtly asked to do something, then it’s unlikely to get done.
  • If you are managing an Iraqi team, then you may need to adapt your management style to ensure that you give your team the guidance needed.

Boss or Team Player?

If you are working in Iraq, then cultural awareness is essential.

  • It is important to remember that reputation plays an important role.
  • The risk becomes amplified in a team or collaborative setting.
  • If you would like to encourage participation it is important first to clearly establish a non-threatening work environment and communicate fully that their participation is desired.
  • Successful management will rely on the individual’s interpersonal skills and ability to maintain cordial relationships with their subordinates.

Communication and Negotiation Styles

Iraqis are generally speaking more high-context communicators. They tend to be indirect when communicating opinions or thoughts, especially if it impacts someone else. People tend to make their point in a long, roundabout way.

  • This has the purpose of saving face and respecting the other person in the conversation.
  • Iraqis try to avoid saying "no" if they can; instead, they might say “I’ll see what I can do”, or something to that effect.
  • The best way of reaching an understanding is to ask open-ended questions.
  • This allows people to reach their answers in their own time and give agreeable and accepting responses that do not directly disrupt the speaker’s discussion.
  • Good personal relationships are important since trust is required in order to conduct business.
  • Companies are hierarchical and the highest-ranking person reaches decisions, albeit slowly.
  • If you try to rush things, you will give offence and risk your business relationship.
  • Iraqis are skilled negotiators.
  • Iraqis may ask the same question several times to see if your response is consistent.

Learn About Arab Business Culture

If you work with Iraqis and want to learn more about the culture, then this eLearning course on Arab business culture is the perfect place to begin!

We have a free version you can watch below.



License Our Management Guides

Management guides for license

Did you know you can upload all our Management Guides onto your company intranet?

Connect your expatriate and international business staff with customised country information at the touch of a button.

Click here for more information.