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Saudi Arabia Critical Incident
JohnBing,President,ITAPInternational,Inc.
Princeton,NewJersey,USA
Purposeandlearningobjectives
To provide the participant with a real-life example of a business interaction and provide
him or her with an opportunity to identify possible cultural misunderstandings
To test a participant’s understanding of what has caused the cultural misunderstandings.
After reading a trigger story, the participant is asked to identify which parts of the incident
are culturally based and how culture has impacted the business interaction. The ensuing
discussion can be an indication that
learning still needs to take place in order for the participant to understand how to han-
dle himself or herself well in the target culture
learning has taken place and the participant has an understanding of possible strategies
for interacting with the target culture
To have the participant analyze a cross-cultural business interaction, determine the cultur-
ally relevant issues, and suggest alternative approaches that would produce a more desir-
able outcome
To provide the participant with an opportunity to apply what he or she has learned to his
or her own business situation
Targetaudience
The relocating international assignee, the business professional who will be spending sub-
stantial time conducting business in Saudi Arabia, or the participant in a cross-cultural train-
ing program about Saudi Arabia. This exercise can be used either with a single individual or
in a group setting.
Time
15 to 25 minutes, depending on participant’s interest and focus. It is most appropriate to use
this exercise toward the end of a training program.
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Materials
One copy of Handout 1, “Saudi Arabia—Critical Incident,” for each participant and
trainer
One copy of Facilitator Key, “Saudi Arabia—Critical Incident Key” for trainer
Flipchart and markers (optional)
Procedure
1. Distribute Handout 1 and ask the participant to read the critical incident.
2. Using the questions listed at the end of the story as a starting point, discuss with the par-
ticipant what happened, what Mr. Morley should have done differently, how the partici-
pant would handle the same situation, and what might be some of the underlying cultural
differences that caused the misunderstanding.
3. Use the participant’s responses as an indicator of what learning has been assimilated. With
the Facilitator Key as a guide, discuss any aspects of the target culture that remain unclear.
4. Ask the participant if he or she has had any similar experiences, how he or she handled
them, and what he or she might do differently based on this learning.
Variation
1. If the critical incident is being used with a group, break up the larger group either into
pairs or smaller groups, and ask each group to choose a spokesperson.
2. Have each of the groups read and discuss the incident, what they think happened, what
they would do differently, and what some of the underlying cultural differences might be
that caused the misunderstandings.
3. Have each group present a summary of their discussion and then debrief the entire group,
using the Facilitator Key and any other relevant information.
4. Ask the participants if they have had any similar experiences, how they handled them, and
what they might do differently based on what they just learned.

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