Greece is a country in the Southern Europe with its capital at Athens. The country has one of the oldest and most famous cultures in the world. Greeks are said to be the founders of democratic government. The language spoken in the country is predominantly Greek though English is also widely used. Almost 98% of the population of the country is Greek with the remaining 2% belonging to other ethnicity. The predominant religion followed in Greece is the Greek Orthodox Church. (Executive Plant, 2007, para 2-7)
Social, Economic and Political Background
There is a huge distinction between rich and poor in the society with a small but very powerful upper class. Hierarchy and family relations play a very important part in the society. Greeks give attach a lot of importance to the seniority as well as family ties which can be seen in the business environment also (Executive Plant, 2007, para 8)
Greeks are very proud of their culture and past because of their many contributions to the modern society. So it is always advisable for a person to know a bit about their culture, mythology, history and architecture to impress the people favorably (Expatica, . 2007, para 4)
Greece is a parliamentary republic where the prime minister and his government hold the executive power. The parliament strength is 300 and a president is selected by the members of the parliament for a five year term (UHY, 2006, p. 4)
Greece – Business Culture
Business environments are formal and appearances are considered to be very important especially while making a first impression. Appointments should be made 1-2 weeks in advance though scheduling a meeting at a very short notice is always acceptable. In addition to this the meeting data time and venue must be reconfirmed one day in advance to the meeting. Setting up a meeting between 1-3 pm is not a very good idea since it is considered to be the lunch time (Kwintessential, n.d., para 10)
The business meeting process is very slow as compared to the instant decisions taken in countries like US. Usually the actual business does not commence until the third meeting, the first and second being used for knowing the person and establishing a mutual trust and comfort level with him. The business meetings are also quite chaotic interspersed with loud voices and simultaneous questions from many people, which is common. Interruptions are common practice and everyone is allowed to interrupt and comment on any particular situation (Expatica, 2007, p. 5).
Greeks almost never follow the agenda for the meeting because an agenda is considered to be the starting point for a meeting and a guideline for the points covered during the meeting. Also while there are many people who speak good English it is always a good idea to hire an interpreter (Kwintessential, n.d., para 10). The Greeks being very emotional in nature might come across as giving extreme reactions to a person, however this should always be viewed with skepticism as the things are not always as dramatic as is made out to be.
Get up is considered to be very important among the Greek people and appearances are very important. The dress code is formal and casual-wear is not considered to be appropriate. Greeks are very fashion conscious and so a person has to dress well for a meeting since dress is supposed to reflect the success in business as well as good taste (UHY, 2007, para 6) In a similar way the presentations themselves should be glossy and eye-catching, and dropping important names is considered to be very favorable.
Cross-cultural negotiations cover many aspects like frame of mind, cultural aspects, manner of talking and behaving etc. It is hence very important to know all such aspects before conducting any type of negotiations with people.
While doing business in Greece a person needs to be patient as well as use quick judgment because Greeks are considered to be excellent negotiators and are skilful in the art of conversation. Greeks like to bargain and hence it is not advisable to enter into negotiation talks with the lowest-possible offer prices (UHY, 2006, p. 5). The rules governing Greek businesses are very confusing and hence it is always advisable to bring in a lawyer or Greek acquaintance while making negotiations. In addition it is also advisable to take notes of the conversation and sum up the points after the meeting is over. In Greece a contract is considered to be valid only as long as it serves both the parties’ interests (Expatica, 2007, p. 4)
While giving any product or service it is always a person should not gloat or show superiority. Also the presentations should be addressed to the senior executives, because hierarchy is strong and decisions are taken by the senior people. While people involve din international business have good command over English it is always considered to be favorable to have printed matter like brochures in both English and Greek (Kwintessential, n.d., para 9)
Establishing business relations
It is imperative for any person interested in doing business in Greece to have a large network of friends and acquaintances in all the sections of the Greek society. Personal relationships are the basis on which the complete business dealings depend on because Greeks prefer to deal only with people they know and trust. Greeks themselves have a vast network of relatives and friends whom they call for any help in business because they trust these people. Hence, for a person or an organization to start business in Greece, it is always very favorable to get introduced to the various contacts via a friend or some Greek relation (Kwintessential, n.d., para 11
Because of the erratic office timing and the general slow nature of the official channels, a person should be always flexible while doing business with Greeks. Face-to-face interactions are preferred to having telephone or email or letter based conversations which are considered to be very impersonal. Developing business relations may take some time and so a person needs to be patient. Also the Greeks being informal by nature prefer such meeting to be done over social outings like lunch or dinner or even a cup of coffee in a restaurant (UHY, 2006, p. 5).
While Greeks are informal by nature it is not considered to be polite if a person acts too informal before a business relation has been developed. While having conversations will Greeks, a person to should take care not to publicly contradict their statements in a way that contradicts their honor and integrity. When a person wishes to treat his Greek counterpart, he should take care to organize beforehand that the bill is taken care by the restaurant (Kwintessential, n.d., para 11)
Dining Etiquettes and Gifts
Greeks are not punctual but expect their foreign business counterparts to be punctual. An appointment at 7.00 pm for them means after 7.00 pm, and being half an hour late may be in fact punctual. While going to a Greek’s home a person is expected to dress well as it shows respect towards the host. Complimenting the host about the wines, their house or children is considered to be extremely favorable (Expatica, 2007, p. 5).
Gifts are an important part of the Greek culture and that includes business cultures also. Greeks are considered to be very generous and usually take people out for treating them to dinners or give them gifts. While the same is not expected out of a person in the first meeting, it is always good to have a small gift with the company logo, which gives a favorable impression. While going to dinner, sweets or chocolates wrapped in a gift box are considered to be more appropriate than flowers.
Greeks being family oriented people also react favorably if a person brings a gift from their children while visiting their home. Some other gifts which are favorably accepted are expensive wines, brandy and cut flowers. It is considered to be extremely inappropriate to present someone with cheap quality wines and sharp objects (Expatica, 2007, p. 5)
eDiplomat (2007), Greece, http://www.ediplomat.com/np/cultural_etiquette/ce_gr.htm,
Article retrieved on 16th October 2007
Executive Plant (2007), Greece: About Greece, 5th April 2007,
http://www.executiveplanet.com/index.php?title=Greece:_About_Greece, Article retrieved on 16th October 2007
Expatica Communications BV (2007), Doing Business Across Cultures – Greece,
http://www.expatica.com/actual/article.asp?subchannel_id=159&story_id=11483, Article retrieved on 16th October 2007
Kwintessential (n.d.), Greece – Language Culture and doing Business Etiquette,
http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/greece-country-profile.html, Article retrieved on 16th October 2007
UHY (2006), Doing Business in Greece
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http://www.uhy.com/media/PDFs/doing_business_guides/Doing%20Business%20in%20Greece.pdf, Article retrieved on 16th October 2007