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.
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 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: