Do we really do things differently in the Midwest?

February 17th, 2010 by Joe Kristan

Things are done differently here, says Brian Gongol. He cites the small size of our business world and our exposure to climate disasters as factors that lead to high levels of trust, concern with reputation, and awareness that things can go badly wrong. For example:

To use the Omaha example, the entire state of Nebraska has just 1.8 million residents. In a state of that size, everyone knows everyone else, particularly when they are in the same field of business. It’s often joked — and with no small measure of accuracy — that if the rest of the world runs on six degrees of separation, the Midwest runs on two.

I’m not sure that is as distinctive as it appears. Most industries are a small world in themselves, and a bad reputation of a supplier, for example, can race across the country and even the world. But this this sounds right:
As a result, business is often conducted on a handshake and a verbal agreement on deals where people in other places might bring out a six-page written contract full of terms and conditions.

And it usually works out pretty well. Still, in the internet age, the idea that you only do business “in the Midwest” may not last much longer. But maybe a smaller world will make everyplace more like the Midwest, rather than the other way around.
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