Myanmar (Burmese) Culture

Business Culture

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Relationship Oriented

Personal relationships play a large role in Burmese business culture. Third-party introductions are almost a necessity, as Burmese prefer to work with those whom they know and trust. Trust is key to good business and they will be looking for an honest commitment to the relationship from you. Their business networks are often comprised of relatives and peers, as nepotism is perceived to guarantee trust. In honour of your business partner, do not try to fast-track business proceedings. Be patient and allow plenty of time and meetings to be dedicated to acquainting parties with one another.

 

Considerations

  • Listen to and respect the opinion of the oldest person in the room.
  • You may be expected to remove your shoes when entering an office.
  • Consider that ‘yes’ may not always mean ‘yes’. While responses are often made in agreement, they may be saying what they think you want to hear, rather than what they actually mean to avoid friction. See more in Communication on this.
  • You may need to consult them a number of times to finalise a matter. Try and be patient regarding this process.
  • The Chin people in particular are often quite thrifty in business. Pitching deals that show the potential to save money are likely to appeal.
  • If you receive a gift, make sure to reciprocate the gesture at a later date.
  • Golf has become a common way of networking with colleagues in Myanmar.
  • On the Corruption Perception Index (2017), Myanmar is ranked 130th out of 180 countries, receiving a score of 30 (on a scale from 0 to 100). This perception suggests that the country’s public sector is somewhat corrupt.
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Myanmar (Burma)
  • Population
    56,890,418
    [July 2016 est.]
    Note: Estimates for this country take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS. This can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.
  • Languages
    Burmese [Official]
    Shan (Tai)
    Karen languages (Karenic)
    Kachin (Jingpho)
    Chin languages (Kukish)
    Mon
    English
    There are over 100 languages and dialects spoken by minority groups.
  • Religions
    Buddhist (87.9%)
    Christian (6.2%)
    Muslim (4.3%)
    Animist (0.8%)
    Hindu (0.5%)
    Other (0.2%)
    None (0.1%)
    [2014 est.]
    Note: The religion estimate is based on the 2014 national census, including an estimate for the non-enumerated population of Rakhine State, which is assumed to mainly affiliate with the Islamic faith.
  • Ethnicities
    Burman (Bamar) (68%)
    Shan (9%)
    Karen (7%)
    Rakhine (4%)
    Chinese (3%)
    Indian (2%)
    Mon (2%)
    Other (5%)
    Note: there are over 135 indigenous ethnic groups in Burma
  • Australians with Burmese Ancestry
    49,204 [2016 census]
Burmese in Australia
  • Population
    32,655
    [2016 census]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Myanmar.
  • Average Age
    41
  • Gender
    Male (48.5%)
    Female (51.5%)
  • Religion
    Buddhism (30.1%)
    Baptist Christianity (26.7%)
    Catholic Christianity (20.6%)
    Islam (5.2%)
    Other (17.4%)
  • Ancestry
    Burmese (46.8%)
    Karen (14.0%)
    Chinese (8.8%)
    English (6.9%)
    Other (23.5%)
  • Language Spoken at Home
    Burmese (47.8%)
    English (19.1%)
    Karen (16.2%)
    Burmese and Related Languages, ndf. (3.6%)
    Other (13.3%)
    Of those who speak a language other than English at home, 60.4% speak English fluently.
  • Diaspora
    Western Australia (34.3%)
    Victoria (25.8%)
    New South Wales (23.7%)
    Queensland (8.7%)
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2001 (43.4%)
    2001-2006 (13.1%)
    2007-2011 (40.2%)
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