British Business Structures

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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Overview

The United Kingdom remains one of the largest, most competitive markets in the world. It is a global centre of excellence across a wide range of business sectors as well as being a world-leader in higher education. The City of London, along with New York, continues to dominate international finance and UK-based legal firms retain their pre-eminence as global players.

Despite these massive positive factors, the UK faces a number of challenges going forward. How will the UK cope with a post-Brexit world as it navigates its way through the Brexit negotiations and looks to forge new partnerships outside it traditional markets within the EU? Will the UK be able to improve its notoriously poor productivity levels and will the City of London be able to retain its leadership role in global finance?

All of these questions will be answered in the coming decade but in the intervening period the UK remains open for business and the prospects for doing successful business in the UK remain positive. The UK actively seeks overseas companies who see the country as an attractive market and world-class incentives are in place to help you take advantage of a sophisticated consumer base and a highly educated workforce.

If you are considering doing business in the UK, you need to consider the cultural issues you are likely to encounter. Put simply, the British are quick to take offence. Your communication style might be viewed as aggressive, when you thought you were merely being helpfully direct or your negotiating style could appear confrontational when you thought you were offering useful alternatives. Study the UK approach to business in advance – it will pay dividends.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of business culture in the UK in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

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