Cultural and Religious Differences in a Business Partnership

While money, family obligations, credit history, business skills, and values are important characteristics for prospective partners to evaluate when forming a business partnership, cultural and religious differences are deeply rooted and also deserve special consideration. Several criteria exist for determining whether a prospective business partner is a good fit. Criteria seven, Compatibility of Cultural and Religious Differences, can help a business owner determine whether she and her partner will be able to work together, long-term.

Culture and Religion can be deeply rooted in an entrepreneur – and because of the potential significance of these two aspects of a person’s being, prospective partners should discuss whether their cultural and/or religious differences can make working together a difficult – or maybe even an enlightening – experience.

Jane Out of the Box, an authority on female entrepreneurs, conducts
extensive research with women business owners about all aspects of
business ownership and success.  Its new book, “See Jane Collaborate:
Your Essential Guide to Joyful and Prosperous Business Partnerships,”
incorporates the results from interviews and discussions its authors
have conducted with both women and men involved in business partnerships
ranging from short-term joint ventures to business co-ownership.  From
their research, this article discusses the importance of considering two important characteristics when starting a partnership.

Characteristic 7: Compatibility of Cultural and Religious Differences

The question: “When considering culture and/or religion, can each partner feel comfortable working with the other?”

Research shows that female entrepreneurs who partnered with people of different cultural or religious backgrounds experienced a variety of outcomes. For example, a black entrepreneur partnering with a white entrepreneur said she spent several weeks just “hanging out” with her prospective partner to detect any potential prejudices. An Italian business owner said she made it clear to her partners up front that members of her large extended family would likely be dropping by the business “all the time.” An Orthodox Jewish doctor who was planning to merge her practice with two colleagues made it clear that the partnership wouldn’t work if the “on-call” schedule didn’t accommodate her religious commitments (unless a life-threatening emergency occurred).

Whether people admit or realize it, they may hold prejudices about people with specific cultures or religions. It’s important before forming a business partnership, to hash out the issues that may arise as a result.

A Review:

When considering creating a business partnership, a female entrepreneur would do well to practice due diligence before signing the legal forms. To start, each entrepreneur should carefully evaluate these seven criteria:

Open and honest communication around these seven important topics will provide prospective partners with enough insight into each other’s business style and skills to make an informed decision about whether the partnership has the potential to succeed. 

Leave a Comment