Purpose – The purpose of this study is to explore the key cultural factors that shape the Arab style of buyer-seller negotiations in the industrial goods sector; formulate propositions predicting behaviors of empowered buyers, avoidant buyers and deciders in an expensive industrial purchase situation; and develop a model of communication structure in an industrial buyer firm in the Arabian Gulf. In addition, the study advances propositions concerned with the bargaining style of Arab industrial buyers and the relationships between industrial sales effectiveness and negotiation tactics. Design/methodology/approach – The study draws on literature in the domains of industrial buying behavior, influence tactics in industrial buyer-seller negotiations and communication in industrial buyer-seller bargaining interactions. Findings – The more expensive an industrial purchase is the more empowered buyers will tend to anticipate the wishes of and seek the endorsement of powerful stakeholders, the more avoidant buyers will tend not to take responsibility for the purchase and the more decision makers will tend to rely on unwritten and formal rules and consult with influencers, subordinates and peers. Aggressive bargaining is unlikely to be used by Arab industrial buyers, who prefer a problem-solving approach. Sales effectiveness will be higher when industrial vendors incorporate tactics of ingratiation and inspirational appeal to influence Arab industrial buyers. Originality/value – The study offers a systematic examination of industrial purchasing characteristics through the lens of Arab culture. It synthesizes several literature streams, develops eight original research propositions and proposes a new conceptual model of the communication structure in an industrial buyer firm in the Arabian Gulf.
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