As with many other southern European countries, business structures in Greece have traditionally veered towards the strictly hierarchical.
As most organisations have either been government-run or family-owned firms, this tendency towards a hierarchical approach is hardly surprising! (The Greek economy has always been characterised by small, family based and managed enterprises or self-employment – with a large service sector supporting a small manufacturing base.)
Therefore, unless you are dealing with the subsidiary of a multi-national, it is best to expect that the organisation you are dealing with will have an extremely centralised decision-making approach with all decisions of any importance being made by a few key individuals at the top of the company. Spend the time to understand the hierarchy of the organisation you are dealing with so that time is not wasted negotiating with the wrong person — things can take long enough to come to fruition anyway.
Even when working with the subsidiary of a multi-national in Greece, the mindset of the company’s local employees could still veer towards a hierarchical structure which might not seem to exist on paper.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
To say that Greece has been through some troubled times in the twenty-first century would be an understatement. The banking crisis of 2008 possibly hit Greece harder than any other European country and resulted in its well-documented financial meltdown and subsequent massive tripartite bailout. The long-suffering people of Greece are still reeling from the austerity measures which were the price demanded by the international financial community in return for long-term fiscal support and they will be feeling that pain for a number of years to come.
Despite those difficulties, life continues in Greece and the country has a great deal to offer for those people who can see the potential of a country rich in history and full of future promise. Can you do business in Greece? Of course you can – the country remains one of the world’s great tourist destinations, its geographic position makes it an important staging post between Western Europe and the Middle East and Greece’s economy can only improve going forward.
As with any other country, one of the key considerations when doing business in Greece is to get a thorough understanding of the business culture you are likely to encounter when you arrive. Despite its membership of the European Union, Greece remains a traditional culture and business structures reflect age-old concepts of hierarchy and the importance of relationship networks. Making the right impression with the right people can be the difference between success and failure and we very strongly recommend that you do your research before entering into the Greek market. The age old maxim of ‘who you know is more important than what you know’ could definitely be applied to modern-day Greece.
This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Greek business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on: