The board of directors is the real power broker of a British company with all key decisions being made at this level.

All PLCs (publicly quoted companies) must have at least two directors who are appointed by and accountable to the shareholders. The chairperson or the CEO leads the board.

Many of the UKs larger companies have non-executive directors who act as outside, impartial experts, as well as often providing links with government and the civil service. This usage of non-executive directors has some parallels with the continental European two-tier system of senior management but is not as all-pervasive and non-execs can be resented by the executive directors.
Although traditionally hierarchical in structure, many British firms have moved towards a flatter, less bureaucratic approach. This has also resulted in a certain lack of shape, with boundaries and responsibilities being blurred. It can be difficult to get a clear picture of the structure of a British company, with even employees being unclear as to the exact remit of their jobs. As a result, job descriptions tend to be somewhat vague and imprecise with little clear guidance on specific tasks to be undertaken.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Great Britain

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Great Britain. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.

With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Great Britain and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.

Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips