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Intercultural Management - Morocco

Being a Manager in Morocco
Management Guide Morocco

The business set up in Morocco is conservative and hierarchical and to ensure successful cross cultural management it is important to remember that strictly defined roles exist. Alway err on the side of conservative behaviour through your dress code and general conduct.

Intercultural adaptability relies on an understanding of this hierarchical system. This belief means that people believe their supervisors have been chosen because of their greater experience.

Expect to be served mint tea whenever you meet someone, as this demonstrates hospitality. Always accept the beverage since declining is viewed as a rejection of the person. As in other Muslim countries, Moroccans are gracious hosts and it is important that you accept their offers of hospitality. At the same time, their business practices have been greatly influenced by the French and emphasize courtesy and a degree of formality.

Moroccans do not require as much personal space as many other cultures. As such, they will stand close to you while conversing and you may feel as if your personal space has been violated.

Since Moroccans judge people on appearances, stay in a high standard international hotel. Likewise, wear good quality conservative clothes since they mark you as a person of status.

The Role of a Manager

Cross cultural communication will be more effective when you are working in Morocco, if you remember that honour and reputation play an important role. When holding meetings, it is important to ensure that any ideas raised do not expose or embarrass the individual. Managers should avoid praising individuals as all projects are to be undertaken collectively.

Managers in Morocco are often paternalistic and relationships with their employees usually overlap into personal areas.

Approach to Change

Morocco’s intercultural competence and readiness for change is low. Its’ conservatism means that change can often be seen as a threat to society. Managers are therefore likely to be averse to change and it is essential that any changes are viewed as positive for the ‘whole’ and not just an individual.

Approach to Time and Priorities

Deadlines and timescales are fluid. Patience is the key to successful intercultural management when working in Morocco. Essentially a relationship-driven culture, it should be understood that taking the time to get to know someone will always take precedence over any timelines.

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

Managers reach decisions after many discussions with the major stakeholders. Once a decision is reached, it is given to subordinates to implement. Employees do not publicly question a manager’s decisions as it would cause both parties to diminish their reputation. Risk-taking is limited to those in decision making positions.

Since there is a high unemployment rate, employees value their jobs and try to adhere to the unwritten rules of the company.

Boss or Team Player?

Due to the hierarchical set up in Morocco, it is important that the manager maintains his / her role as ‘boss’ and engenders the necessary respect from within the team.

When the manager needs to work collectively with his / her team however, then it is important that the need to work collectively is stated and that the team is encouraged to operate openly in a non-threatening environment.

Communication and Negotiation Styles

Intercultural sensitivity is essential; introductions are imperative in this relationship-driven culture. The social side of business is very important. Moroccans must know and like you to conduct business. Companies are hierarchical with the highest ranking person making decisions, but only after obtaining a group consensus. If the government is involved, discussions will take even longer since the ministers of several departments may be consulted. It is important that you do not cause your Moroccan business associates to lose honour. Moroccans are non-confrontational and they may agree in meetings rather than cause you to lose honour. French is usually the language of business, although some companies use English and if you don’t speak French, you should hire an interpreter to avoid any possible cross cultural miscommunication. Someone’s word is considered more important than a contract.

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