Corporate Gifting – A Culture To Nurture

In the wake of globalization and increased business linkages, gift-giving has been moulded to suit the demands of a growth-oriented and competitive business atmosphere. MNCs, business houses with global links and export houses are the core contributors to the growth of this culture. Gifts can play a role in awarding of contracts, finalizing joint ventures and in wooing the right kind of VC. Goal-oriented gifting is a known phenomena in the Global Corporate World.

But beware. It is first important to understand the global gift culture, which can have a big impact on the psyche of foreign partners. Most business representatives from overseas firms do not like to take gifts when dealing with Indian companies as it may become an obligation. Having inherited a dislike in dealing with the politicking of Indian business, a foreign partner always guards himself from being branded as corrupt or manipulating.

Representatives of foreign statutory bodies such as US FDA, TGA of Australia and ISO Certification agencies are generally averse to accept gifts from Indian firms.

Fred Luthans, George Holmes Distinguished Professor of Management, University of Nebraska, studied the gift-giving culture of Western Europe in his popular book Organisational Behaviour. Culture is important in understanding the socialization not only of Americans but also of those living in other countries. Western Europe is a good example. The US does considerable business there, so it is helpful for Americans or Indians working there to know how to act in this corner of the globe. The following are some useful guidelines for gift-giving in Western Europe.

 Do not give a business gift at the first meeting. It is considered bad manners.

 If you are going to send flowers to your dinner hostess, send them ahead rather than handing them to her upon your arrival. This gives her time to arrange and place them as she wants. It also prevents any embarrassment among other guests who may show up empty-handed.

 When sending flowers, be sure of your choice. In France, Chrysanthemums are associated with mourning. In France and Germany, red roses are a gift only between lovers.

 Good chocolate and liquor are excellent house gifts. If the occasion demands something more elaborate, small porcelain and silver gifts such as candle-sticks are good choices.

 Never give perfume or men’s cologne. This is considered too personal for a business gift to or from either sex.

 Do not enclose your business card. This is considered crass. Instead, write a note.

Different cultures contributed to the gift giving ethos of global business houses. It is, therefore, in the interest of business relations to be cautious about the gift giving culture of different countries.