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STRATEGY

Toeing the Line

What's the difference between a bribe and a gift? There's no clear standard, but prosecutors often take local culture into account. Here is a guide to culturally appropriate gifts, and how to present them, in five emerging markets, according to Vital Wave, a global consulting firm based in Palo Alto, California.
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India

What: Chocolates, dried fruits, fancy nuts, crystal vases or sculptures; company-branded items, such as thumb drives.

How: Status in India is key. Those with a higher rank should get a more expensive version of the same gift. Present the gift in a social setting, not at the office.

China

What: Pens, small electronic devices, golfing items. Stay away from clocks, handkerchiefs, and anything white, as these items have bad connotations in Chinese superstition.

How: Give the gift at the end of your first meeting or at a social event after the business is done. The receiver will likely decline the gift three times before accepting. You will be expected to do the same when you are offered a gift.

Nigeria

What: Think luxury--engraved high-end pens, or a $100 to $200 bottle of wine, assuming the executive is not Muslim.

How: Give a gift at initial meetings and at high-level sales calls. Give a nicer gift to senior executives than you do junior ones. If the CEO is a man, you can also bring gifts for his spouse.

Brazil

What: Gifts are generally more personal and should represent the interests of the executive. For example, if he is a sports fan, bring a jersey from a top U.S. team. High-tech gadgets also are appreciated.

How: Give the gift at the end of the meeting or in a social setting after business matters are concluded.

Russia

What: A good bottle of liquor is appreciated (cognac or whiskey, not vodka), as are cigars. Chocolates and flowers also are appropriate.

How: Gifts aren't generally expected in Russia. If you want to give a gift, do it at the end of a meeting or in a social setting.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2007




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