Rivermate | Burkina Faso flag

Burkina Faso

Cultural Considerations in Business

Discover how cultural norms impact business and employment in Burkina Faso

Communication styles in the workplace

In Burkina Faso, understanding communication styles is crucial for navigating the professional landscape. Here's a breakdown of key aspects to consider:


  • Straightforward Approach: Burkinabè communication tends to be direct and to the point. Messages are delivered clearly, and people avoid unnecessary embellishment. This can sometimes come across as blunt, particularly to those from cultures that value indirectness.
  • Open Communication with Peers: Communication among colleagues is generally open and friendly. Burkinabès value collaboration within teams, and information sharing is encouraged amongst team members of similar hierarchical levels.


  • Respectful Hierarchy: Burkina Faso has a hierarchical society, and communication reflects this structure. When addressing superiors, a respectful and formal tone is expected. Titles are used frequently, and employees may wait to be spoken to before contributing in meetings.
  • Shifting Formality: However, the formality can adapt depending on the context. In less formal settings or with close colleagues, a more relaxed and informal style may be used.

Non-Verbal Cues

  • Body Language: Non-verbal cues play a significant role in Burkina Faso. Maintaining eye contact with superiors demonstrates respect, while looking away might be seen as disrespectful. Similarly, posture and gestures can convey additional meaning.
  • Silence and Patience: Silence is often used for contemplation and doesn't necessarily indicate disagreement. Burkinabès may take their time to formulate a response, so patience is key during conversations.

Cultural Considerations

  • Age and Seniority: Age and seniority are highly respected in Burkina Faso. When communicating, it's important to acknowledge and defer to elders and those in higher positions.

Business Practices

  • Building Relationships: Burkinabès prioritize building strong relationships before diving into business matters. Taking the time to get to know colleagues and build rapport is essential for successful communication and collaboration.

Negotiation practices

Negotiating in Burkina Faso requires an understanding of the country's cultural norms and preferred approaches to deal-making. The country leans towards a collaborative negotiation approach, aiming to find a win-win solution that benefits all parties involved and fosters long-term relationships. Building trust and rapport is crucial before diving into specifics.

Negotiation Approaches

Burkinabès negotiators may use indirect language to avoid confrontation. This can involve softening critiques or phrasing requests in a way that preserves harmony.

Negotiation Strategies

Negotiations can be lengthy processes, with a focus on patient discussion and mutual respect. Burkinabès negotiators take their time to consider offers and may counter-propose multiple times before reaching an agreement. Personal relationships hold significant weight in negotiations. Building trust and rapport with your counterpart is essential for a successful outcome.

Cultural Norms Influencing Negotiations

Respect for hierarchy is crucial. Negotiation teams may involve senior members who hold decision-making authority. Deferring to their experience and expertise is important. Non-verbal cues are important. Maintaining eye contact and respectful body language demonstrates attentiveness and fosters trust. Silence is used for contemplation, so avoid pressuring for immediate responses.

Additional Considerations

Initial offers are often seen as starting points for discussion, and significant negotiation is expected on both sides. Avoiding public disagreement or making someone lose face is important. Be prepared to make concessions and find creative solutions that satisfy everyone involved.

Understanding hierarchical structures

Businesses in Burkina Faso are characterized by distinct hierarchical structures that influence decision-making, team dynamics, and leadership styles.

Prevalent Hierarchical Structures

Businesses in Burkina Faso often have tall hierarchies with clear distinctions between upper management, middle management, and frontline employees. This structure reflects the country's hierarchical society, where age and seniority command respect.

Impact on Decision-Making

Decision-making authority typically rests with senior management. Information flows up the hierarchy, and lower-level employees are expected to implement directives. This aligns with Hofstede's Power Distance Index, where Burkina Faso scores high, indicating a preference for centralized power structures.

Team Dynamics

The emphasis on hierarchy can limit bottom-up communication. Employees may hesitate to challenge or offer suggestions to superiors, potentially hindering innovation. Despite the hierarchy, collaboration within teams is valued. Team members are expected to work together to achieve common goals, fostering a sense of camaraderie.

Leadership Styles

Burkinabè leadership styles often lean towards paternalism. Leaders are seen as figures of authority who provide guidance and support to their teams. This resonates with paternalistic leadership theories, where leaders act as father figures, offering direction and protection. However, there's a growing trend towards more transformational leadership styles, where leaders inspire and motivate their teams to achieve ambitious goals.

Cultural Analysis

Burkina Faso's culture emphasizes respect for age and seniority. Hierarchical structures reinforce this cultural value, placing experienced leaders at the helm.

Management Theories

The emphasis on clear hierarchy aligns with Henri Fayol's principles of management, which advocated for a scalar chain of command and unity of command.

The Future of Hierarchies

As Burkina Faso integrates further with the global economy, businesses may adopt flatter hierarchies to improve efficiency and decision-making speed. Understanding these hierarchical structures allows for effective communication and collaboration within Burkinabè businesses. By acknowledging cultural values and adapting leadership styles, businesses can foster a dynamic and productive work environment.

Holidays and observances affecting business operations

Burkina Faso has a rich cultural heritage that is reflected in its holidays and observances. These occasions can impact business operations in various ways.

Statutory Holidays

Burkina Faso observes several national holidays throughout the year, as mandated by the Burkinabè Labour Code. These include New Year's Day (January 1st), Independence Day (August 5th), and Labour Day (May 1st). Businesses are typically closed on these days, and employees are entitled to paid leave.

Religious Holidays

Islam is the dominant religion in Burkina Faso. The Islamic calendar follows a lunar cycle, so the dates of religious holidays vary each year. Significant observances include Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, commemorating Abraham's sacrifice. Businesses may have adjusted hours or closures during these holidays, depending on the employer and the employee's faith.

Christian holidays like Christmas Day (December 25th) and Easter Monday are also observed, with potential business closures or modified schedules.

Regional Observances

Burkina Faso is known for its vibrant regional festivals celebrating culture, harvest, and traditions. These vary by location and may involve community gatherings or market closures. Businesses in these regions may have adjusted hours or closures to allow employees to participate.

Impact on Work Schedules

Businesses can expect reduced operations or closures during major holidays. Scheduling important meetings or events around these times is best avoided. It's advisable to be aware of upcoming holidays and plan business activities accordingly. Employers should communicate any schedule changes or closures to employees well in advance.

Cultural Considerations

Burkina Faso is a religiously diverse nation. Understanding and respecting religious holidays demonstrates cultural sensitivity and fosters a positive work environment.

The Burkinabè Labour Code outlines statutory holidays and employee entitlements. Businesses are required to comply with these regulations.

Understanding these holidays and observances can help businesses operating in Burkina Faso ensure smooth operations while respecting the cultural fabric of the country.

Rivermate | A 3d rendering of earth

Hire your employees globally with confidence

We're here to help you on your global hiring journey.