Trade Guide: Cambodia

Do you know?

Cambodia (official name: the Kingdom of Cambodia) is a small developing country located in the southern portion of the Southeast Asian land mass, sharing borders with Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos.

Business Culture and Etiquette

Cambodia is a Buddhist country, and this has implications for business culture and etiquette.  For example, hierarchy is extremely important, and deference must be made to the most senior managers or officials.  Foreign business executives are sometimes surprised by the direct questions they are asked by Cambodian counterparts, but this is necessary in order to better gauge your rank and seniority, and ensure that you are treated in the “right” way.

Business meetings in Cambodia can have a very fluid agenda, and jump from point to point, rather than methodically working through a series of agenda items, one by one.  Issues which appear to have been settled can come up again later in the meeting.  Be flexible, remain patient, and don’t express frustration.

Cambodians typically communicate in a somewhat indirect manner, and so it is frequently necessary to “read between the lines”.  Seek clarification as needed, but be careful to do so in a “gentle” and non-confrontational way.

Cambodians frequently respond to a point they disagree with by remaining silent.  In Western culture, it is said that “silence equals concurrence”, but the exact opposite can be the case in Cambodia.  Smiling can also take on a number of meanings other than happiness or agreement.  It can be used to avoid a loss of face, as a result of nervousness, or even to mask anger.  Be sure not to assume that a smile is a positive indication.

Cambodian society places emphasis on the group rather than the individual.  The “face” of the group (in a business setting, this means the company) must be protected at all times.

Cambodians are generally regarded to be friendly and approachable.

Select the language you would like to use:

This setting will be saved in your computer if you have cookie enabled.