For those from a more formal culture where meetings are structured and ordered, meetings in Italy can often be seen as almost anarchic.

Meetings are usually informal gatherings and the smaller the meeting the less formal it is likely to be.

Agendas, if present, are extremely flexible with all members of the meeting taking an active role and with frequent interruptions, side conversations and people breaking off to answer mobile phone calls. Part way through the meeting, some of the delegates might leave whilst new participants arrive and join in with equal gusto.

Meetings can often seem to be for the formal ratification of a decision that has been made elsewhere and this is, indeed, often the case. Decisions will frequently be made in smaller pre-meeting lobbying sessions which take place prior to the larger meeting and in which much of the debate and dissension takes place. Therefore, in order to have influence in the final decision, it is often necessary to ensure participation in the pre-meeting meetings. Flying to Italy to debate a decision which has already been made is pointless.

Punctuality, although desirable, is less important than in certain other cultures. People will try to be punctual but other matters may come up which need personal attention and start times might be missed.

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

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 Italy. 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 Italy 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