There is a different work hours between government and private offices. For government offices, the routine work hours is on Monday- Saturday since 7.30am until 4.30pm with breaking for the lunch time while private offices normally have no break by use working on one’s shift instead to keep longer hours for example; shops, supermarket, etc.
Cambodian have customs and tradition to have long and suitable relationships in any business. They trust having proper behavior is more important than work performance for example; if you are honest, responsible for your tasks, polite and respect to the superiors or the higher powers, etc. The higher power will concern and give some rewards to the good employees such as money or power. To give and opinion, Cambodian employees prefer to follow the superiors’ opinion than against them.
Cambodians prefer to improve their English skills to enhance themselves to the internationally therefore, the English books, magazines or language tapes are popular to be the gifts for any business. Shoes and socks are unsuitable for the gifts because cultures they believe that the foot is the lowest of their body according to Buddhist cultures.
Cambodia has a long history of culture and civilization which mainly influenced by Indian country. Notice from the Cambodians’ life involve with the religions of Buddhism and also Hinduism. Cambodia population around 95 percent is Theravada Buddhist according to relies on reasonableness, personal experience, and critical analysis. This is the main Buddhist in Southeast Asia including Cambodia which affected Cambodians’ culture and etiquette in nowadays and the other are Islam, atheism, or animism respectively.
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For example; the conceptual ideas about karma, collectivism, and saving face plays and important roles in the daily life of Cambodians. For karma, this idea involves with the rationality and law of action. If you do something, something will be happened follow things that you did. For collectivism, Cambodians prefer give priority to family, group, and society rather than the individual. This idea also concerns about saving face which tries to avoid losing someone’s face in any transactions. Losing face can be occurred when someone is criticized or is given compliments in the public. Therefore, if you want to do business with Cambodia, you should be aware of this action to assure that you are not misunderstanding this concept. The followings are the tips for saving Face;
Normally the monks in Cambodia always highly respect in the society because they are faithful and admirable. They have similar ways to Thailand for example; they dressed in the color robes, women must avoid touching or handing to the monks even though she is a monk’s mother. To have a conversation with the monks, you should press the hands together at the chest level for showing respect to the monks. For the daily routine of monks, they are allowed to eat only to times per days which are in the morning and lunch.
Normally, when the Cambodians greet, they usually bow their head to show respect with press the hands together at chest level which is quite similar to Thailand. This gesture is known as Som Pas. However, when they greet with the foreigners, they usually adapt the greeting of western style by shaking hands. Typically, it is improper for the men to shake hands with Khmer women and to hug, kiss, or touch the body of a Khmer woman are not allowed and unsuitable in this society. To address the name of Cambodians, they use “Lok” instead of Mr. for the man and “Lok Srey” instead of Ms. or Mrs. for the woman before the first name and surname.
Proper dress is an important for Cambodians for both men and women. It can show their position in the society for example, shorts are considered as the proper dress only for school children and it is not proper for both men and women if they want to go inside the official places or temples. Doing business in Cambodia also consider about the proper dress. Generally, to do business or working in Cambodia men wear collared shirts and long pants. For women, they wear dress or blouse instead short skirts and should not show their shoulders.
It is a typically in Cambodian society to bring the gift for the host if you are invited to have lunch or dinner at someone’s home. Normally they give flowers, fruit, cookies, etc. Knives or sharp things are not popular to be the gifts. Moreover, gifts are preferred to wrap with colorful paper rather than the white because it means the sadness or mourning. Moreover, when you want to give the gifts, you should use both hands for showing care and gifts are not opened when you received.
Cambodians emphasis on the formal dress when they are doing business for both domestic and international transactions, contact with the government sectors or enter to the official places. Moreover, having proper and formal dress show the respect to the people who are doing business with or the places that you will go there. Normally, both men and women wear a lightweight tropical suit in formal situations. Shorts and skirts are not suitable in the public. For less formal occasions, it is enough to wear casual shirts and blouses with collars.
Cambodians culture in communication is very indirect and non-verbal behavior therefore, the person who want to do business in Cambodia should understand about this culture and be aware of it for example; they prefer silent when they disagree instead of complain in front of others, smiling in Cambodia has many meanings not only in the positive ways but also in the negative ways, etc. Time is also important in doing business here. If you arrive late, it means you ignore and do not respect to the person who you are doing business with.
Presenting the card in doing business is general in Cambodia and it should be exchanged at the beginning of introduction. For the business card, it is better if one side is translated into Khmer. When you present your card or receive the card, remember to use the right hand or both hands.
Meeting and Greeting
The followings are some guides for meeting and greeting in Cambodia;
For Group meeting you should introduce people in order to rank.
Handshakes are general however you should be careful not to be too tight which can be considered as aggressive.
It is the tradition that if the man is doing business with the woman, they should keep distance to avoid misinterpret from the others because Cambodians has a strongly traditional in sexuality for example eye contact should be kept to a minimum.
Cambodians address them with the title “Lok” for a man and “Lok Srey” for a woman with the first name only or both the first and the last name.
Nowadays the world is separated in different countries and culture and many people still don’t know much about their international business partners and how to deal with them in the right way. Therefore business people should need to know how they can cope with the foreign partners.
This part is emphasized on the cultural dimensions and communication in South East Asia including Lao and Cambodia. It is an important to know about the fundamental facts of these countries if you want to do successful business in SE Asia.
Cultural Dimensions from Hofstede
High power distance
Societies have significant gaps between the higher power and the weak. There is related distinguished to unfairness between the rich and the poor.
High level of uncertainty avoidance
The cultures in SE Asia tend to reduce risk and ensure financial securities, many written rules, less risk taking by managers, “lower” labor turnover and less ambitious employees.
People are very interested in long lasting relationships and give priority to a group, family or society. They care each other in change for loyalty and tend to show less individual.
High feminity (low masculinity index)
Care each other and quality of life for both men and women. Managers give their employees more credit if they have high responsibility for their tasks and allow them more freedom.
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