Location: Western South America, bordering the Pacific Ocean at the Equator, between Colombia and Peru
Climate: tropical along coast, becoming cooler inland at higher elevations; tropical in Amazonian jungle lowlands
Population: 13,927,650 (July 2008 est.)
Ethnic Make-up: mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 65%, Amerindian 25%, Spanish and others 7%, black 3%
Religions: Roman Catholic 95%, other 5%
Language in Ecuador
There are many languages spoken in Ecuador. The predominant and official language is Spanish, in addition to Quechua and other pre-colonial American languages. 2,300,000 speakers of American Indian languages (Adelaar 1991).
Ethnologue lists 22 languages of Ecuador which include Achuar-Shiwiar, Cha’palaachi, Cofán, Colorado (Tsachila), Cuaiquer, 9 varieties of Quichua, Secoya, Shuar, Siona, Tetete, Waorani.
Society and Culture
Ecuador is far from homogenous. The population is a mix of Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white), Amerindian, Spanish and Blacks. 3%. There are more than 14 indigenous groups on the mainland each with their own identities and nuances.
The main indigenous groups of the Amazon region are the Huaoranis, Achuar, Shuar, Cofán, Siona-Secoya, Shiwiar, and Záparo. The government declared the Tageri, relatives of the Huaoranis, "intangible," denoting their desire to live far from civilization. The principle indigenous groups of the highlands are the Quichua, Cañaris, and Saraguros. The Awa live in northern Ecuador. The Chachis, Cayapas, Tsáchilas, and Huancavilcas live on the northern coast.
Regional differences exist and manifest in the way people dress, their physical appearance, language and family name. The people from the Sierra ("serranos") and the people from the Costa ("costenos") display the most pronounced regionalism. Ecuador has 4 diverse regions: the Amazon Rain forest, the Coast, the highland Andes, and the Galapagos Archipelago.
The Sierra is the heartland of Ecuador's indigenous culture. The oldest cultures of America lived on the Ecuadorian coast. Three cultures still exist: the Aws, the Chachis or Cayapas and the Tsachilas or Colorados.
The Roman Catholic Church has a strong influence on personal and social behaviour is part of national identity. Most holidays and celebrations are based on Christian festivals. Due to historical circumstances the Church is wrapped up with the process of government.
Indigenous Ecuadorians, while nominally Catholic, tend to blend Catholicism with their traditional beliefs.
Machismo survives in a culture where traditional gender roles remain. The man is the breadwinner and the wife looks after the home. From birth, children are raised to understand that they will have different roles and expectations in life.
Etiquette and Customs in Ecuador
Meeting and Greeting
Gift Giving Etiquette
Business Etiquette and Protocol
The Ecuadorian Communication Style
Ecuadorians are known for being warm and polite. They can be quite tactile and tend to stand much closer to each other when speaking than in many other cultures. As a result they are highly tuned to body language and non-verbal communication.
Ecuadorians need information in order to make their minds up on someone. As a result they will ask probing questions in order to assess how open, trustworthy or reliable you may be. One should not take this negatively or as an intrusion but rather be forthcoming with information.
If you are from a culture is less reliant on relationships, trust and non-verbal cues then you need to watch what messages you may, or may not, be giving. Being distant on protective over personal information would be construed as being rude and closed.
A good way of overcoming the initial deliberations your Ecuadorian counterpart may have is through using an intermediary to introduce you. This acts as a reference for your credibility.
Ecuadorians are indirect communicators who speak diplomatically and with courtesy. They view blunt communication as extremely rude. If they want someone to do something, they will generally flatter the person so that it would then be difficult for them not to agree. Ecuadorians are non-confrontational and will go out of their way to avoid saying no. In fact, they will generally tell you what they think will please you rather than what they actually plan to do. They are also optimistic and have a positive outlook on life. They prefer to see the glass as half full and try to make the best of any situation.
As a visitor you may get by without speaking Spanish as senior personnel are usually fluent in English. It is however a good idea to learn some basic phrases to demonstrate an appreciation of their language. Some funny phrases can also help break the ice.
Ecuadorians are essentially concerned with the people they are doing business with not the company. As a result they will spend time talking about issues that have nothing to do with business. This should be viewed as relationship building time and indulged in as much as possible. Wait for your counterparts to instigate a change in topics.
Avoid confrontation and be careful not to embarrass people or public place them in awkward positions. Calling attention to someone’s error demonstrates a lack of finesse. Never let someone think that you do not trust them; since trust and personal relationships are the cornerstone of business you must ensure that this is solid.
A person’s word is his bond. Never make promises you cannot keep.
Being a Manager in Ecuador
The business set up in Ecuador is very formal and intercultural management will be more successful if you are courteous at all times and treat those in positions of authority with respect and deference.
Spend time cultivating relationships and maintaining them once they are formed. Networking is extremely important in this relationship-driven culture. This is a country where "who you know" is often more important than "what you know". Interpersonal relationships, including loyalty to family and friends, are the linchpin of successful business interactions.
The Role of a Manager
Cross cultural communication will be more effective when managing in Ecuador, if you keep it in mind that each person has a very distinct role within the organization. People believe that their supervisors have been chosen because they have more experience than those they manage, and it is, therefore, unnecessary, and even inappropriate for them to consult with lower-ranking individuals when decision-making.
In Ecuador, as in other hierarchical societies, managers may take a somewhat paternalistic attitude towards their employees. They may demonstrate a concern for employees that goes beyond the workplace and strictly professional concerns. This may include involvement in their family, housing, health, and other practical life issues.
Approach to Change
Ecuador’s intercultural adaptability and readiness for change is developing all the time. This country is seen to have a medium tolerance for change and risk.
The fear of exposure, and the potential of embarrassment that may accompany failure, brings about aversion to risk and because of this attitude, intercultural sensitivity is going to be required. Failure can be viewed as a personal short-coming and can cause a long-term loss of confidence by the individual as well as by the group.
Approach to Time and Priorities
Deadlines and timescales are fluid in Ecuador. Patience will play an essential part in successful cross cultural management.
While timescales and deadlines need to be set well in advance and reiterated carefully, it should be understood that these will be viewed as flexible. Successful cross cultural management may require some degree of patience.
Global and intercultural expansion means that some managers may have a greater appreciation of the need to enforce timescales and as such, agreed deadlines are more likely to be met.
Ecuadorian business is rigidly hierarchical. There are still the remnants of social class distinctions in the business arena. Bosses are usually from a different social class than their subordinates and do not socialize with them.
Managers are more autocratic than in many other countries. Managers do not seek a consensus before making decisions, as they believe it would make them appear weak. For the most part decisions are reached at the top of the company and given to managers to implement. However, if the decision concerns something technical, the decision maker may seek group consensus, although he can override the group.
Subordinates often appear timid when dealing with someone in a position of authority. They attempt to avoid confrontation and tell their manager what he wants to hear, even if it is not the absolute truth.
Boss or Team Player
Business in Ecuador is relatively hierarchical.
Managers tell subordinates what they want done and how they expect them to perform the task. They are also paternalistic and will assist their subordinates if they have personal problems. Employees follow a manager’s instructions without comment, as it would be rude to challenge someone of a higher status.
Successful cross cultural management will rely on the individual’s interpersonal skills and ability to maintain cordial relationships with their subordinates. This can be as important as their technical knowledge.
Communication and Negotiation Styles
Personal relationships are important to Ecuadorians. They prefer to deal with those they trust; therefore they take time to develop relationships and it may take several visits to accomplish a simple task. To avoid any cross cultural miscommunication, ensure you have all written material available in both English and Spanish. Ecuadorians do not like to disagree. Don’t assume that everything is going well just because nobody is challenging you. Many companies have a purchasing committee. Getting to know someone on this committee can speed up the decision making process.
Links and Resources about Ecuador
* Currency - the currency of Ecuador is the US Dollar. Use the free currency converter to compare to GBP or Euro.
* Weather - visit Yahoo!'s up to date Weather for Ecuador.
* Dialling Code - the international dialling code is +593.
* Time – Ecuador is -5 hours GMT.
information provided by www.kwintessential.co.uk