Colombia is a country of great potential due to its people and considerable natural resources; the ineffective management of these assets leads to a high poverty rate. However, Colombia has well-established economic relations with the USA, so it is important to understand the peculiarities of this state. The country is located in the north of Latin America, but it also has some territories in North America. Colombia has access to the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean (“The world factbook,” 2019). The bordering countries are Venezuela, Panama, Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador. The climate is tropical, with rather cooler temperatures in highlands. The natural hazards include volcanic eruptions, droughts, and earthquakes.
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Slightly over 42 million people live in Colombia, and almost 81% of these reside in urban areas. The most populated cities include the capital, Bogota, with over 10 million residents, Medellin (almost 4 million people), Cali (over 2.7 million people), Barranquilla (2.246 million people) (“The world factbook,” 2019). The median age of males is 29.4, and females’ median age is 31.4 years old. Slightly over 84% of people are mestizo and white, and 10.4% are Afro-Colombian. The vast majority of the population are Roman Catholics (79%), and 14% are Protestants. The unemployment rate is quite high since almost 19% of the population are unemployed. The country spends almost 4.5% of its GDP on education.
The official language of the country is Spanish, and the literacy rate is 94.7% (“The world factbook,” 2019). Direct eye contact is a norm irrespective of gender or the nature of relationships (family, business, romance). When greeting each other, males shake hands, and females tend to grasp forearms (Commisceo Global, 2019). It is common for friends to give hugs or pat each other on the shoulder.
According to Hofstede’s model, Colombia can be characterized by a high score in such aspects as an indulgence (83), uncertainty avoidance (80), power distance (67), and masculinity (64) (Hofstede Insights, 2019). The country’s scores in individualism and long-term orientation are low (13). Colombians accept inequality in all aspects of their life, including business, where hierarchy is often rather strict. Colombia can be regarded as a highly collectivist society where group’s opinions are more important than individuals’ views. Colombians are status-oriented and competitive, which is quite a remarkable peculiarity since the society is collectivist. In Colombia, people try to avoid ambiguity, so they express their emotions freely and tend to follow the rules if they are accepted by the group. Colombians also expect to achieve quick results and respect their traditions. Colombian society is very optimistic, and people tend to indulge themselves.
As far as business etiquette is concerned, shaking hands is an appropriate form of greeting, and small talks are appreciated. It is desirable to refer to people using their surnames and appropriate honorific titles (Commisceo Global, 2019). Gift giving is appropriate for major holidays. When visiting A Colombian house, it is appropriate to bring flowers, chocolate, or alcohol. During meetings, men are dressed in dark suits, and women wear professional dresses and suits. Punctuality is not one of the strengths of Colombians, so they can often be late. Although meetings have agendas, they are rarely followed.
As far as business practices and market entry are concerned, sociocultural components are rather important. The development of relationships is one of the most important elements of business communication and practices (Commisceo Global, 2019). Therefore, it is essential to ensure the maintenance of appropriate relationships with colleagues, supervisors, subordinates, as well as customers. Respect and trust are the most valued elements of communication for Colombians. Hierarchy and status are also regarded as key aspects of doing business. When it comes to marketing, Colombians’ indulgence can be used as one of the major milestones. People will prefer products and services that bring joy and can be characterized by the prompt achievement of results.
An American executive should pay specific to this peculiarity of the culture. People with high status, especially those in power (officials), expect to be treated accordingly. When doing business in Colombia, foreign executives should make sure that they establish proper relationships with officials, as well as employees. Authority is critical for Colombians, which should be considered as well. It is also important to remember that saving one’s face or status seems more important for Colombians than lying. So, it can be necessary to read between the lines and understand non-verbal cues. Colombians would promise something with no intention to keep their word rather than talking directly about their inability or unwillingness to complete certain tasks. It is also advisable to know the major peculiarities of Colombian traditions, as these people cherish their customs.
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All in all, transformational leadership can be used as the most effective style as it is associated with the development of proper relationships and certain mentorship. At the same time, Colombian society is highly competitive. Therefore, it can be beneficial to employ performance ratings and introduce certain awards to high-achievers. The elements of the transactional leadership style can also be utilized. Doing business in Colombia is associated with certain peculiarities and complexities, but the people living in the country are hardworking and goal-oriented.
Commisceo Global. (2019). Colombia – a guide to the language, culture, customs, and etiquette: Welcome to this guide to Colombian culture! Web.
Hofstede Insights. (2019). Colombia. Web.
The world factbook. (2019). Web.