Publication: Cooperation with Distributors in Arabic-speaking Countries

16.09.2022 The findings of the research project “Cooperation with Distributors in Arabic-speaking Countries” were published in the book “International Leadership”, part of the Uniscope book series brought out by Springer-Verlag.

In Arabic-speaking countries, Swiss exporters often work with independent distributors because the market potential in these countries is too small to justify wholly owned subsidiaries. This makes collaboration with independent distribution partners that also sell other manufacturers’ products a key success factor for Swiss exporters. However, due to geographical and cultural differences, communication between exporters and distributors is often challenging and not seldom a source of frustration. How collaboration with distributors in Arabic-speaking countries can be made as successful as possible is revealed in a study by the Institute for Data Applications and Security IDAS.

Four key activities of cooperation

The study is based on an online survey of Swiss companies and in-depth personal interviews. It explains the four key phases of collaboration with distributors: selecting the distributor, motivating the distributor, working with the distributor and dealing with cultural differences. These activities are illustrated with case studies to identify the practical problems and highlight possible solutions. Part 4 – Dealing with cultural differences – uses famous Arabic proverbs to better portray the often-indistinct sense of cultural misunderstandings that are difficult to put into words. These proverbs are included in the analysis and offer a new take on this issue. At the end of each sub-chapter, the insights are summarised in rules. These rules are presented at the end as the “Ten Golden Rules” for working with distributors in Arabic-speaking countries.

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