Doing Business in Europe: Cultural Considerations

Topics: Culture, Intercultural competence, Europe Pages: 5 (1363 words) Published: October 7, 2011
The definition of culture offered in one textbook is “That complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man person as a member of society.”

Potential cultural issues:

oDifference in cultural habits and norms.
Space. Space is perceived differently. Americans will feel crowded where people from more densely populated countries in Europe will be comfortable. Time. Monochronic cultures tend to value precise scheduling and doing one thing at a time; in polychronic cultures, in contrast, promptness is valued less, and multiple tasks may be performed simultaneously. US and most European countries are monochromic. Etiquette. Some cultures have more rigid procedures than others. In some countries, for example, there are explicit standards as to how a gift should be presented. In some cultures, gifts should be presented in private to avoid embarrassing the recipient; in others, the gift should be made publicly to ensure that no perception of secret bribery could be made. Relationships. Some cultures are more task/focus-oriented, whereas others are relationship-oriented; some place more emphasis on the individual than on the group (which defines whether a culture is egalitarian/individualistic or hierarchical/collectivistic). Americans have a lot of quite shallow friends toward whom little obligation is felt; people in European and some Asian cultures have fewer, but more significant friends.

oBusiness Etiquette

Handshakes. Handshakes are standard business greeting gestures throughout Europe. However, the European handshake is usually exchanged before and after every meeting, no matter how many meetings you've already had. An exception is Great Britain, where, as in the United States, an initial handshake is often the only one you'll receive. European Handshakes are more formal and less buddy-buddy than those in the United States. You will not find a lot of back-slapping at handshaking time. A quick grasp and release is the norm. In most European countries, handshakes are firm. An exception is France, where a lighter grasp is customary.

Names and Titles. It's unusual in Europe for people to use first names immediately. Wait until he asks you to call him by his first name or uses a familiar form of address with you. Titles, especially academic titles, are always used in Europe. In the United States, it's unusual for a Professor to be called Doctor or Professor outside of the classroom, but in European countries, professors, along with lawyers, medical doctors, and others are introduced with their title(s).

Dining and Entertaining. Europeans don't do business breakfasts. In France, Austria, Germany, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Portugal, and Spain, talking business over lunch is not a violation of etiquette. In the Czech Republic, Italy, and Greece, on the other hand, you do not talk business over lunch unless your host initiates it. Dinner in Europe is usually reserved for social entertaining. Depending on the country, you may start dinner as early as 6:30 p.m. or as late as 11:00 p.m. Depending on the country your spouse may be invited. Dining is taken seriously in most of Europe as an expression of generosity. In some countries, such as Italy and Greece, this generosity can reach stupefying levels; it can be virtually impossible to pick up a check in Italy and virtually impossible not to overeat or overdrink in Greece. But it's rude to refuse dinner invitations or any of the sumptuous items proffered to you at a dinner. Here are some general dining rules: 1.In Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, be on time for dinner. Elsewhere, being fashionably late is acceptable. 2.No host gift is expected in Great Britain.

3.Do not take wine to a dinner in The Netherlands, France, or Belgium. It insinuates that you think the host's cellar is lacking.

Gifts. In some countries, for instance, a small host...
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