Poland has made massive strides away from a centrally planned economy towards a freer market-oriented economy since the fall of communism in 1989.
Huge amounts of effort have been put into the liberalisation of trade, economic restructuring and the adaptation of globally recognised legal and financial standards.
In May 2004, Poland became a fully integrated member of the European Union enabling it to access the vast European single market where goods, services, capital and labour flow freely in a way which would have been unimaginable under the old Soviet-based system.
These changes have enabled Poland’s economy to grow at a much faster rate than many of its European neighbours – it has at times almost reached ‘Asian tiger’ levels of growth. These growth levels have been stifled by the post-2008 global recession, but Poland is well placed to recover strongly.
Yet despite the progress that has been made, Poland is still very much a transitional economy and suffers from the typical breaks on growth which hinder the development of many of its former Soviet-neighbours.
Decades of under-investment in infrastructure, an under-developed banking system and other legacy issues from the previous era all combine to make progress slower than many would wish.
The contrast between the old systems and the new approach can be seen at all levels of Polish business life – they even mark out a difference in attitude between the older generation and the new generation who have entered the workforce since the end of the communist era. (This generational tension is explored further in other sections of this country profile.)
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
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: