Traditional Argentinean Worldview

Moderate Group Orientation
Identity is defined by group; group welfare supersedes individual concerns; interdependence

Moderate Orientation towards Collaboration
Despite ambition, winning at all costs is not the general rule; harmony within group is important; therefore competition may be seen as disruptive

Relationship Orientation
Interaction takes precedence over time; quality of life is important; people in general work in order to live (and not the other way around)

Moderate Preference for Hierarchy
Well formed patterns of rank authority; status is well defined within the hierarchy; formality pervasive in public life

Need for Certainty
Need for stability; managerial guidance expected; in general, uncomfortable with ambiguous situations

Rules exist but they are flexible and can be bent; reference to context is required to understand a certain situation

Fluid Time
Time is not treated as a commodity; it is intangible and plentiful, which can cause tardiness in both business and social contexts; “event time”; multi-focus

Cultural Assumptions

  • Long Roman Catholic tradition; fatalistic outlook
  • Expected to have definite opinions, but truth is tempered by need for diplomacy
  • Popularity is important
  • Judged by who you are (not what you do)
  • Caution in action; avoid risk of mistake
  • “Things will work out slowly” (take your time)
  • Mistakes are difficult to admit, hide them
  • Maturity valued (managers in leading positions tend to be older)
  • Pleasure principle: “work to live”
  • Sense of cultural superiority
  • Self-cultivation, education
  • Perseverance

Argentinean Communication Style


Moderately Direct
Although people tend to say what they mean, the tend to avoid open conflict and direct opposition to differing viewpoints.

High Context
The context in which the message is conveyed is important; background knowledge is assumed and needed for thorough understanding.

Status and hierarchy are important and are considered when speaking; use of last names and academic titles are common in professional context.

Display of emotions is common and accepted; Argentines are warm people and tend to get close while speaking;  touching the other’s hand and/or arm while speaking is common.

Non-Verbal Dynamics

Argentineans are emotionally warm and this is evident in their greetings, which are affectionate.  Men shake hands firmly and may follow with a hug if they know each other well, as well as a kiss on the check.  Women often kiss the cheek of women and men, as well as shake hands, in business as well as social settings.

While we expect some indirectness from Latin Americans, due to their greater group orientation, the Argentineans seem more European than South American and can be quite straight-forward and blunt.  On the other hand, they avoid confrontation and embarrassment, especially across hierarchical boundaries, and may be inclined to tell you what you want to hear when the objective truth would be disappointing.  They can be quite emotional in speech, however, which can make them seem argumentative, as can their preference for direct eye contact when talking.

Although Argentineans move toward first-name basis more quickly than they did in the past, there is still much more formality than in similar situations in the U.S.A., especially early in the relationship.  Titles are important, especially among older generations, such as Licenciado for anyone with a university degree, Engeniero for an engineer, and Doctor for a physician or lawyer.  The general terms of respect – señor, señora, and señorita – are frequently used.

  • Maintain direct eye contact while speaking.
  • A pat on the shoulder is a sign of friendship
  • A sweeping gesture beginning under the chin and continuing up over the top of the head is “I don’t know.”
  • Brushing the hand, palm down, outward from under the chin means “I don’t care.”
  • Touching the thumb & finger of one hand and tapping them with the index finger of the other means “hurry up” or “a lot.”
  • Yawning in public, eating in the street or on public transportation, and putting feet up on furniture are all ‘no-no’s.
  • Avoid the North American OK sign, which has a very vulgar meaning.
  • Hands on the hips indicate anger or challenge.
  • To beckon someone, extend the arm, palm down and make a scratching motion with the fingers.

Business Practices

PROBLEM SOLVING Leader’s/individual’s vision, intuition, or insight over methodical, scientific, exhaustive approach
MOTIVATING PEOPLE Pay, status-related perks, title, job security; relative emphasis on personal interest/concern for workers
APPRAISING PERFORMANCE Relatively less structured, quantified or scheduled; occasional, interpersonal
NEGOTIATING, PERSUADING Shy away from direct confrontation (loss of honor) while valuing sincere passion & eloquence
DECISION MAKING PROCESS Leader-centric, top-down tendency; subordinates expect clear goals/guidance
PARTICIPATION IN MEETINGS Cautious/suggestive/indirect if uncertain of status; passionate if point of honor
Hierarchical: superior to guide and nurture; subordinate to provide effort, support, loyalty
HIRING Logical criteria balanced by obligation network/relations
DISMISSAL Performance/results basis tempered by background/relationship, worker protection
CUSTOMER RELATIONS Relationship and obligation links affect service level; preferential tendency