Cross Cultural Management Guide – Suriname


What will you Learn in this Guide?

In this guide, expatriate managers will gain an understanding of a number of key cross- cultural areas when working in Suriname:

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



Management in Suriname

Cross cultural management should bear in mind the need to treat businesspeople with respect and deference and not to mistake what may initially appear as a casual attitude to indicate a lack of attention to detail.

  • Surinamers are capable of being consummate professionals without rushing through business at breakneck speed. Many business protocols mirror those in the USA.
  • Communication is generally clear and direct. Surinamers tell others what is on their mind and expect the same in return. They are expressive communicators, which may be off-putting to those from more reticent cultures.


The Role of a Manager

Cross cultural communication will be more effective when managing in Suriname, if you keep it in mind that each person has a very distinct role within the organization.

  • People believe that their supervisors have been chosen because they have more experience than those they manage, and it is, therefore, unnecessary, and even inappropriate for them to consult with lower-ranking individuals when decision-making.
  • In Suriname, as in other hierarchical societies, managers may take a somewhat paternalistic attitude to their employees.


Approach to Change

Suriname’s intercultural adaptability and readiness for change is apparent although changes are still made slowly, requiring a considerable amount of thought, planning and evaluation. It would be perceived as imprudent to introduce rapid change, and yet it would be recognized as poor management to resist change unnecessarily.

  • When suggesting changes, it is often helpful to have a series of success stories or even testimonials so that the Surinamers may readily see the benefits associated with the changes.
  • Intercultural sensitivity is important with Suriname’s attitude toward risk dramatically impacted by the negative ramifications of failure on both the individual and the group.


Approach to Time and Priorities

Deadlines and timescales are fluid in Suriname. 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 and intercultural expansion 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

Although many businesses retain hierarchical structures, decisions are often made after reaching a consensus of the stakeholders.

  • Few individuals have full authority to make binding decisions concerning anything but mundane matters. Teamwork is becoming increasingly important in most organizations. The best ideas and solutions often come from having many people meet to discuss an issue.
  • Employees expect managers to provide clear instructions as well as the tools necessary to complete a task. They expect the manager to be approachable so they may feel free to ask a question should the need arise. Managers are expected to empower subordinates and praise them for taking responsibility.
  • Despite the respect for hierarchy, all employees are considered to have something of value to add to discussions. They are not afraid to speak with a senior manager if they have a concern.
  • Communication with employees is generally direct. Surinamers ask questions if they want clarification about a decision or if they did not understand something.


Boss or Team Player?

If you are working with people from Suriname an intercultural understanding of the importance that hierarchy plays is needed.

  • Although the culture is multi-ethnic, there is a tendency to communicate more freely with those from the same background.
  • However, a legacy from both the Dutch and British colonizers is a respect for hierarchy and the belief that the supervisor holds the position because of superior knowledge and skills.


Communication and Negotiation Styles

Expect small talk before getting down to business. Business people often want to get to know people before conducting business with them.

  • Surinamers are relatively direct and expect the same in return.
  • Decisions are often based upon the personal preference of the decision maker. Therefore, it is important to spend time developing trust and personal relationships.
  • Decisions often take time, especially when dealing with government officials so patience may be a necessary cross cultural attribute.
  • Avoid appearing irritated or impatient as it may be viewed negatively and ultimately hurt your position.

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