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Cross Cultural Management Guide for Pakistan

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

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

Topics include:

  • Hierarchy
  • Leadership style
  • Time and scheduling
  • Communication style
  • Negotiation

Being a Manager in Pakistan

To ensure successful management in Pakistan, foreign managers need to be aware of the importance of maintaining a degree of formality at all times.

  • Older people and those in senior positions should be deferred to and treated with dignity and respect.
  • Status is important and it is a good idea to seek situations where you can flatter your colleagues.
  • You must exercise patience in your business dealings.
  • Things generally take longer than expected since meetings may be interrupted and patience will be necessary.
  • Pakistanis are hospitable and enjoy hosting foreign guests.
  • At the same time, they expect you to understand the rules of their country and obey them.
  • Do not appear overly friendly when you are first introduced.
  • Relationships take time to grow and must be nurtured.
  • Pakistanis often ask personal questions as a way to get to know you as a person.
  • If possible, it is best to answer these questions.
  • Businesswomen should be aware that they may be asked about their marital status and the number of children they have.

Role of a Manager

Managers should bear in mind that each person has a very distinct role within the organization, and maintaining that role helps to keep order.

  • In Pakistan, 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.

Approach to Change

 Pakistan is a low-risk and low-change-tolerant culture.

  • New projects will be carefully analyzed to ensure that their risk is thoroughly understood and addressed.
  • In order for change to take hold, the idea needs to be perceived as good for the group and be accepted by the group.
  • Cultural sensitivity is important with Pakistan’s attitude toward risk dramatically impacted by the negative ramifications of failure on both the individual and the group.

Approach to Time and Priorities

Pakistan is a fluid time culture, and as is the case with many fluid time cultures, it is also very relationship-oriented.

  • People in Pakistan will not want to upset others in order to force adherence to a deadline.
  • 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.

Decision Making

Pakistani managers tend to have a rather autocratic style. At the same time, the boss is seen as a paternalistic figure and is expected to assist subordinates with personal problems.

  • Decisions are made at the top of the company and handed down to managers to implement.
  • Although the decision maker may consult with technical experts before reaching a decision, he is not seeking consensus, simply sufficient information to make an intelligent decision.
  • To ensure successful cross-cultural management, you must bear in mind the importance of people in the office maintaining the proper behaviour relative to their position.

Boss or Team Player?

If you are working in Pakistan, it is important to remember that honour and reputation play an important role.

  • The risk becomes amplified in a team or collaborative setting.
  • When meeting together and moderating ideas, intercultural sensitivity is necessary.
  • It is important to qualify ideas that are raised in a gentle manner, protecting the reputation of those bringing up ideas, so no one is shamed.

Communication and Negotiation Styles

Communication will be easier if you understand the importance of personal relationships in business.

  • Being introduced to the proper people and making the right connections is extremely helpful.
  • Pakistanis are non-confrontational and they will seldom say "no" overtly, so you must watch their non-verbal cues.
  • It often takes several visits to accomplish simple tasks.
  • Pakistanis are highly skilled negotiators.
  • Price is often a determining factor in closing a deal.

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