Localization: Training & Development in Panama

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By Jen Weaver, Carmazzi Global Solutions

PanamaToday let’s explore some common cultural facts about Panamanians and their expectations when it comes to T&D.

Test your knowledge of Panamanian culture with the Fun-Fact questions below:

  1. Is Panama part of Central America or Northern America?
  2. True or False. Panama has the same governmental structure as the United States, which includes a president and a vice president.

Quick Tips for Training & Development in Panama1:

  • Public criticism is frowned upon, as Panamanians work diligently to maintain an image of harmony. Be careful not to criticize students or team members in public; pull them aside and address concerns privately, if needed.
  • Spanish is the official language, but English is commonly known. Training materials will likely be requested and better accepted in Spanish, even though English materials could be understood.
  • Many Panamanians are highly sensitive about the influence of the United States on their country—whether perceived or actual. Even if influence by the United States seems apparent, don’t mention it, as the commentary will often be met with distain.
  • Truth is strongly biased towards emotions rather than logic.
  • Decision-making is commonly done in light of its effect on the group as a whole, and personal relationships are a vital part of daily life. Trust is freely given, but you may experience resistance as a trainer from the United States.
  • While there is a wide gap between social classes, this difference is typically accepted by older generations. Younger professionals are starting to fight this cultural norm as they seek higher levels of success and affluence for their families.
  • Machismo is prevalent, so students may inherently respond better to male trainers or leaders. To overcome this stigma, women can emphasize their role as part of a committed team.

Fun-Fact Answers:

  1. Central America.
  2. Panama is a multiparty republic and includes a president and two vice presidents.

Developing training & development materials for use in Panama? Contact Jen Weaver with Carmazzi Global Solutions for a free consultation.


1Morrison, Terri, & Conaway, Wayne A. (2006). Kiss, bow, or shake hands (2nd ed.). Avon: Adams Media.


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