Italian Management Style

Paternalism sits quite comfortably with family orientation and a manager is expected to act like a manager and appear authoritative and in control.

This desire for managers to be authoritative should not, however, be confused with a desire for managers to be authoritarian. The Italian manager who gives dictatorial instructions without reference to the thoughts and ideas of subordinates will probably find many of those instructions ignored or even actively obstructed. It is important to be decisive after thorough consultation – listen and then use your experience and expertise to make a definite decision.

Your level of power as a manager will probably be determined by the strength of the relationships you enjoy with senior management. Thus the respect that subordinates hold you in and their willingness to follow your decisions will also be ultimately decided by such considerations. It naturally follows, therefore that a good amount of management time will be spent networking and maintaining or improving these all-important relationships.

As detailed long-term planning is not undertaken with such relish as it might be in a country such as Germany, control and the ability to react to changing circumstances are key attributes for an effective manager in Italy. A good manager will consistently follow up on work being undertaken, making ongoing adjustments where necessary.

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

Despite Italy’s much publicised economic difficulties, following the global banking crisis, it remains a vibrant and attractive economy which not only has an active export base but which is also open to new products and new ideas from abroad. Doing business in Italy has proved highly successful for scores of global companies – and will continue to do so as the country continues to grow at a steady rate.

Italy has a well-educated and discerning consumer base as well as a vibrant manufacturing sector with thousands of SME’s producing a wide range of high-quality goods across a number of sectors. Both the Italian consumer base and SME companies need new products and services and are actively looking to work with international partners who can add value to their lives. If you are not doing business in Italy at the moment, you should start to scan the market for opportunities as soon as possible.

Italy represents an attractive opportunity but that does not mean everything will be plain sailing when you get there. Like all countries, Italy has a distinct and unique business culture. Don’t expect business in Italy to function like things do ‘back home’.

Italian business is very relationship oriented and who you know is incredibly important. How are you going to make those all-important first connections and, when you meet them, how will you make a good impression? Are you speaking to the right person within a prospect organisation? How effectively will you be able to communicate your ideas and what are the ‘hot-buttons’ in Italy? These issues could mean the difference between success and failure.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Italian business culture 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