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Perceptions of Time and Their Impact on negotiations in the Arabic-Speaking Islamic World

Ilai Alon and Jeanne M. Brett

This article examines how perceptions of time affect Arabic-speaking Islamic negotiators and how their attitudes about time, and their corresponding behaviors, may differ from those of their Western counterparts. We begin by identifying cultural differences in the conceptualization of time and then comment on the role of time in negotiations, discussing how time influences bargaining, trust, and negotiation tactics. In the section on tactics, we discuss stall-and-delay tactics, the use of the past as an objective standard, and limits on negotiating the future. Our purpose is to encourage negotiators from theWest to be knowledgeable about the way they, as well as negotiators from Arabic-speaking Islamic cultures, conceive of and use time in negotiations.We believe that understanding that the very concept of time is often quite different in these two cultures is an important step in facilitating negotiations that cross these cultural boundaries.


Negotiation Journal January 2007 55

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