Fijian Culture

Business Culture

Meetings
  • Be punctual, but do not expect your Fijian counterpart to be. Meetings often start later than expected. In large gatherings, people may be up to 30 minutes late. It is common for people to laugh off someone’s late arrival.
  • It is best to dress casually. A full suit and tie could seem quite intimidating.
  • Take the time to indulge in social conversation before starting the meeting. They will appreciate it if you show interest in them as people.
  • Discern the age hierarchy and pay special attention to the opinion of those present that are older than you.
  • Some senior Fijians may be mostly silent during meetings. This does not necessarily indicate disinterest, rather that they are observing and analysing before concluding anything.
  • Meetings and decision-making usually progress quite slowly. Be patient and lenient with your time in order to facilitate the best working relationship.
  • If the person you are meeting with is Indo-Fijian, they may expect you to be upfront about your proposal and look to bargain hard.
  • Generally, Fijians look to include everyone in the conversation and will listen sensitively to all opinions. When everyone has expressed their ideas, the senior person present will usually make the final decision. Ideally, that decision is made after a consensus has been reached.
  • Consider that “yes” can simply indicate “I understand” during meetings.

Considerations
  • Indo-Fijians generally make up a larger proportion of the business community in Fiji.
  • If you are invited to visit your business partner in a social context (e.g. their home), do so. This is a good gesture of esteem and will strengthen the relationship.
  • Due to the collectivist orientation of the culture, employers tend to take into account a potential employee’s networks when hiring. The management of employees can be seen as the management of the people they have contact with.
  • Colleagues may drink kava (a mild narcotic drink) at business functions.
  • If dealing with someone still living in Fiji, it can be a good idea to stress the benefits that your business venture could provide for Fiji. As part of a proud but small island nation, people are often conscious of making choices that can potentially support the country’s economy (this is less of a consideration for Fijian expats). When negotiating with a chief, be particularly aware that he may have to make his decision sound appealing to those he leads.
  • The Corruption Perception Index indicates that public power is commonly exercised for private gain in Fiji. However, there is not an available rank of the public sector’s perceived corruption.
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