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Reading Contracts Through a Different Lens

Updated: May 18, 2023

Three Colors of Worldview Series: How we see and use contracts is dependent on our Worldview

How different Worldviews see contracts

In the contracting world, there is a tendency to focus on the text and the clauses of the contract if somebody is from a more Innocence/Guilt oriented country, while the tendency from Honor/Shame and Power/Fear oriented cultures is to be much more focused on personal relations.

In an Honor/Shame setting, the focus is on one big question, "Is this contract going to bring honor? Will it add honor to me as a person, my department, my company or to the family that I represent?"

In a Power/Fear oriented society the big question would be, "Is this contract going to diminish or enhance my powerbase? Will it diminish or enhance my power base as a person, or as the group I represent?"

Contracts are not always signed because they are logical. The same article that highlights certain points may make perfect sense to one yet be illogical to another.

How the different Worldviews create challenges in contract creation

Differences in Worldview present a big challenge. Primarily in the design of contracts is where disconnects in Worldview tend to appear. How much effort and time do you put into getting the contract exactly right?

We ran into this challenge recently while pitching in the UK. As a group we are used to using contracts as a base for dialogue and discussion, while the recipients on the other end in the UK were used to seeing the contract document as the final piece of an agreement. The assumption was that all the homework had been done before, that an accurate picture had been created of the situation, and that the document received was a reflection of that. This is a good example of the Innocence/Guilt way of looking at contracting.

Being more used to working in Honor/Shame and Power/Fear oriented cultures, we were used to the contract being the starting point for a dialogue where after the contract has been received there would be modification, clarifications and typically also negotiation around factors such as the price etc.

Knowing how much needs to be done before you submit a contract is an important step, which can easily catch people out. In most of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, if you look at the building industry as an example, 30% contract modifications is a very common occurrence during the deployment phase even after contracts have been signed and approved. Whilst the building process is happening, the stakeholders who are investing in the project are making the assumption that there is room for modification and dialogue on the contract and this can come as quite a surprise to Innocence/Guilt oriented people.

KnowledgeWorkx develops the ability to accurately diagnose the human terrain through Inter-Cultural Intelligence, the Three Colors of Worldview and the 12 Dimensions of Culture. To begin your culture learning journey, Contact us or get our mini-ebook: Inter-Cultural Intelligence: from surviving to thriving in the global space.



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