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Negotiating with the tribes

The purpose of this article is to raise a few eyebrows – and perhaps a wistful smile – while at the same time drawing some illuminating parallels between tribal and professional cultures. The word ‘tribe’ brings a number of different connotations, from childhood memories through to a more complex anthropological meaning that contains words such as language, structure, organisation, values, customs and dress. In linking the concept of tribes to professional cultures in organisations, we can enhance our ability to navigate business deals through what is essentially a complex ‘latter-day organisational jungle’.