Manufacturing and Distribution of Dairy Products in Iran
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Culture and customs
The Iranian or Persian culture is a very close family oriented culture. Famlies bring up their children in a sometimes strict Islamic culture which requires them to be pious, respectful and also secretive. The Iranian people are a very personable people and are surprisingly, probably the most westernised of the large Middle Eastern Countries. An Iranian person is far more likely to strike up a conversation with you (a stranger) and invite you into their home than his counterpart in the West would. A particular strength of the Persian people is the family unit. In the west when children reach 21 or finish at University they are expected to stand on their own two feet immediately, especially if a marriage has taken place, whereas the Iranian engagement and marriage system ensures that the children spend time during their engagement period with both sets of parents providing their continued support through this important period.
Respect for elders is not something that is prominent in the West but it is very much so in Iran.
The general Iranian Infastructure of roads and communication and distributions routes is well advanced compared to some neighbouring countries. There are National and International distributers for chilled, ambient and frozen distribution with good reporting and stock control systems. Driving in Iran is probably the single most dangerous thing about the country. There is a vehicle testing system but it is not strict enough. Drivers sometimes pay others to stand in for them for the driving test. Insurance is mandatory and accidents are frequent due to por driving, unsafe road traffic systems. At a roundabout it is the first there or the biggest vehicle that has the right of way. Traffic lights are good with time displays on most but still too often lights are ignored. Traffic flows ensure that U turns are the norm and traffic wishing to go in the opposite direction have to turn off into the fast lane and slow down.
The Status of Manufacturing
Manufacturing quality is rapidly improving with a well established Ministry of Health and ministry of Standards controlling standards. Product licencing and manufacturing and quality systems approvals are mandatory with a system that does work better than other countries in the region. The quality of some dairy products is questionable but as manufacturers get fewer and volume manufacture increases then through necessity standards are improving and the government and ministries are working hard and conscientiously in this area.
Failure in Iran causes a long-term loss of confidence by the individual as well as by others. Because of this attitude, intercultural sensitivity is going to be required, especially when conducting group meetings and discussing contributions made my participating individuals.
People in Iran will not want to upset others in order to force adherence to a deadline, and while appointments and schedules need to be set well in advance as a sign of respect for the individual, you need to understand that those schedules are seen as flexible, not necessarily needing to be adhered to.
When working with people from Iran, it’s advisable to reinforce the importance of the agreed-upon deadlines.
Some managers have a greater appreciation of the need to enforce timescales and as such, agreed deadlines are more likely to be met.
Many companies are family-owned. Decisions are usually made at the top of the company, either by the most senior ranking person or by a small council of senior level staff. Decisions are often reached after discussions with everyone who will be affected. Once a decision is reached, it is handed down to subordinates to implement. Employees do not question the decisions that have been reached. Managers or those in a position to do so will make decisions, while in general their subordinates will wait to be told what to do. Risk-taking is limited to those in decision making positions.
Employees are generally treated with respect. In turn, employees treat their manager with the respect and deference attributable to their position.
Meeting deadlines is often secondary to maintaining personal relationships. Intercultural sensitivity is necessary and managers do not publicly chastise employees because it would cause the subordinate to lose dignity and respect.
It is important to remember that reputation plays an important role. The risk becomes amplified in a team or collaborative setting. If you would like to encourage participation it is important first to clearly establish a non-threatening work environment and communicate fully that their participation is desired.
Successful cross cultural management will rely on the individual’s interpersonal skills and ability to maintain cordial relationships with their subordinates.
It takes time for Iranians to become warm towards foreign businesspeople. Until then, they may appear somewhat stiff and formal. Cross cultural management will be more effective when working with the understanding that personal relationships form the basis of business dealings and decisions are made slowly. Iranians are deliberate negotiators who can drive a hard bargain. Do not use high-pressure tactics as they are generally counterproductive. Iranians may display emotion, or even walk out of the meeting, or threaten to terminate the relationship in an attempt to convince you to change your position. Do not emulate this behavior. Iranians often use time as a negotiating tactic, especially if they know that you have a deadline. Be cautious about letting your business colleagues know that you are under time pressure. Companies are hierarchical.
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