P Time versus M Time

On study comparing perceptions of punctuality in the United States and Brazil found that Brazilian time pieces were less reliable and public clocks les available than in the United States Researchers also found that Brazilians more often described themselves as late arrivers, allowed greater flexibility in defining early and late were less concerned about being late, and were more likely to blame external factors for their lateness than were Americans.

The American desire to get straight to the point and get down to business is a manifestation of an M time culture, as are other indications of directness. The P time systems gives rise to looser time schedules, deeper involvement with individuals, and a wait and see what develops attitude. For example, two Latins conversing would likely opt to be late for the next appointments rather than abruptly terminate the conversation before it came to natural conclusion. P time is characterized by a much looser notion of being on time or late. Interruptions are routine, delays to be expected. It is not o much putting things of until manna as it is the concept that human activity is not expected to proceed like clockwork.

Most cultures offer a mix of P time and M time behavior, but have a tendency to be either more P time or M time in regard to the role time plays. Some are similar to Japan where appointments are adhered to with the greatest M time precision but P time is followed once a meeting begins. The Japanese see US business people as too time bound and driven by schedules and deadlines that thwart the easy development of friendships. The differences between M time and P time are reflected in a variety of ways throughout a culture.

When business people form M time and P time meet, adjustments need to be made for a harmonious relationship. Often clarity can be gained by specifying tactfully for example, whether a meeting is to be on “Mexican time” or “American time” An American who has been working successfully with the Saudis for many years says he has learned to take plenty of things to do when we travels. Others schedule appointments in their offices so they can work until their P time friend arrives. The important thing for the US manger to learn is adjustment to P time in order to avoid the anxiety and frustration that comes from being out of synchronization with local time. As global markets expand, however, more business people from P time cultures are adapting to M time.

Speed is Relative:

Rank of 31countries for overall pace of life [combination of three measures: (1) minutes downtown pedestrians take to walk 60 feet, (2) minutes it takes a postal clerk to complete a stamp purchase transaction and (3) accuracy in minutes of public clocks]

Overall Pace Country Walking Postal Public
60 feet Service Clocks
1 Switzerland 3 2 1
2 Ireland 1 3 11
3 Germany 5 1 8
4 Japan 7 4 6
5 Italy 10 12 2
6 England 4 9 13
7 Sweden 13 5 7
8 Austria 23 8 9
9 Netherlands 2 14 25
10 Hong Kong 14 6 14
11 France 8 18 10
12 Poland 12 15 8
13 Costa Rica 16 10 15
14 Taiwan 18 7 21
15 Singapore 25 11 4
16 United States 6 23 20
17 Canada 11 21 22
18 South Korea 20 20 16
20 Czech Republic 21 17 23
21 Greece 14 13 29
22 Kenya 9 30 24
23 China 24 25 12
24 Bulgaria 27 22 17
25 Romania 30 29 5
26 Jordan 28 27 19
27 Syria 29 28 27
28 El Salvador 22 16 31
29 Brazil 31 24 28
30 Indonesia 26 26 30
31 Mexico 17 31 26