Successful Entertaining in Poland

Business lunches and dinners are quite common occurrences in Poland and form an important part of the relationship building cycle.

Business breakfasts, on the other hand, are virtually unknown and it is not advisable to suggest this as a meeting forum.

It is difficult to give hard and fast advice around whether a business should or should not be discussed over the meal. It is best to be led by your Polish counterpart on this and wait until they raise business matters before launching into a detailed debate on specific contract issues.

Any business entertaining is likely to be done in a restaurant, rather than at people’s homes and whoever invites usually pays. If you invite, ask for local advice for a suitable restaurant as quality is somewhat variable. (It is usual to tip around 10% at a restaurant.)

Poles like to entertain and be entertained, so be prepared for the possibility of a long evening with quite a lot of drinking. Beer and wine are being consumed in larger quantities but vodka remains a popular choice. Be careful if you have serious negotiations the following day!

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

Poland has been the most successful of all the countries in central and eastern Europe and has managed the transition from its former Soviet era system to a liberal, free-market economy remarkably well. Poland even grew during 2008 whilst the rest of the world was in seeming economic meltdown.

How did Poland achieve this success when so many of its neighbours have found the transition much more difficult? Poland got its institutions right from the outset – it focused on the rule of law, on property rights, democratic accountability and on building robust market institutions. Having got those things right, it then worked hard at making EU accession a success. The result? One of the smoothest movements from middle-income to high-income status on record.

Many international companies have found doing business in Poland to be highly profitable and have benefited from a well-educated population who are both internationalist and aspirational. Many Poles have worked abroad, learnt English and then returned home to work for one of the many global companies who have set up operations not only in Warsaw but also many of the second-tier cities.

If you are thinking of doing business in Poland or with Polish colleagues we recommend that you learn about Polish business culture in advance. Poland has manged to work smoothly with its Western European neighbours but that does not mean that it has adopted the same approach to day-to-day business activities as Germany (it’s largest trading partner.) Poland has its own unique business culture which is, like the rest of Poland, going through a period of transition – some say it has more than one business culture split along generational lines. Why not find out before you get there?

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Polish 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