Europe is now generally defined by it’s 47 countries though
only 27 of them are European Union members and even fewer are in the Euro Zone. Ancient Greece is considered to be the birthplace of Western Civilisation and its legacy has influenced ‘The West’. However, Europe has its own cultural divides as mentioned below.
So far in this section you’ll find the Top Ten Tips for doing business, along with opening times, holiday dates and festivities for the following countries: Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, France, Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, Romania, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Hungary.
The North/South Divide
There is a distinct difference between the southern countries of Europe and the Northern ones. In the south, the pace of business is much slower and unpredictable. Time is to be enjoyed. Relationships and emotions play a large part in influencing the success of business deals. Both Italy and Spain have adopted a more time-efficient/’professional’ approach to business to compete in a globalised world, so cannot be defined by the old stereotype of ‘maňana. However, the pace of life is much slower than in Northern Europe. The southern countries are sometimes regarded as not being completely trustworthy; this is because their values-system is about pleasing you and is very different from the rule-bounded north. August is the holiday month.
The Nordic Countries
The Nordic Countries are very different from the rest of Europe in their attitudes and behaviour and it is useful to mention this at the outset. The Nordic region comprises Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland and their associated territories. (Scandanavia comprises Norway, Sweden and Denmark). They are all driven by a strong work ethic, are exceptionally honest, and are very tolerant of people who are different from them. The two things they deplore are bribery/corruption (dishonest) and tardiness (disrespectful). They believe in working towards the common good and looking after those who are more unfortunate than themselves. However, they are ‘straight’ talkers and this can be seen as being very brusque. July is the holiday month.
Eastern Europe and the Balkans
The speed of thinking and working is a lot, lot slower than in Western Europe. Although people use e-mail, their use of technology may not be as frequent. It is difficult to get a firm commitment to a meeting; this is a power play. You will be asked to phone on the day, then again later in the morning, and again in the afternoon. A typical response is: “I may be busy, so I can’t tell you now”. Business activity grinds to a near halt during the latter part of July and most of August for extended summer holidays. You need to know how to get around the gatekeepers. Bribing is common place and people are suspicious of you if you do not participate. Don’t get frustrated at the amount of time spent drinking coffee during the working day.
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