As in many other industrialised countries, the last couple of decades have seen a major restructuring of British industry away from the more traditional heavy engineering and primary sectors towards the service and high-tech fields.
This process has also coincided with radical shifts in approach to management and company structure. Many of the hierarchy and class issues which were so much a feature of the British industrial landscape have been replaced by more modern business models – often heavily influenced by US thinking.
Ideas of jobs for life have largely been overtaken by an expectation of rapid change in work patterns and prospects. Many current British managers no longer expect to spend most of their careers with one or two companies, but rather look for progression through moving from employer to employer. One result of this could be the much talked of British short-termism associated by many continental European business people with UK companies.
Generalisation, rather than specialisation, tends to typify the British approach – with less merit being placed on pure technical ability than in some other countries. Some commentators have quoted this tendency as one of the reasons for the demise of manufacturing in the UK over the last four decades.
As with many other European countries, the UK (with a heavy reliance on the Banking and Finance sector) was badly hit by the financial crisis of 2008 and faces a painful journey back to growth and prosperity. The Brexit decision on 2016 adds to this sense of economic uncertainty and the coming years could prove decisive for the long-term viability of the UK to survive as a global leading economy.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
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: