Portuguese Meetings

Meetings are often used for the exchange of information — often from a senior person to a subordinate — or for discussion purposes.

Decisions are often taken outside the meeting situation in a series of pre-meeting lobbying sessions. Thus, decisions which seem to be made within the meeting are often merely the ratification of a decision which has actually been made elsewhere.

Do not arrive at a meeting expecting an open decision-making process where people will commit to a particular course of action there and then. It is likely that issues will need to be taken away and discussed with certain other colleagues who are not present. You may need to be patient.

Once a decision has been taken, it will probably be seen as an interim step and that, should circumstances alter the decision would probably need revisiting.

It would be reasonably unusual for junior people to openly disagree with more senior managers in the plenary of a full meeting but this does not mean that people never disagree with the boss — they are just less likely to do so in front of other people.

Punctuality is variable in Portugal and it is possible that you can be kept waiting for some time – it is still advisable to arrive on time as this will be taken as a sign of respect and good intent. Agendas, if produced at all, will not necessarily be followed. It is felt that a meeting should be allowed to follow a natural path and that this approach is much more effective than being constrained by a pre-determined structure.

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

Portugal’s economy was severely hit by the banking crisis and resulting recession. And, as a result the country has really struggled over the past decade. However, many commentators feel that the shockwaves resulting from the crisis will – given time – provide the impetus for Portugal to carry out several long-needed structural reforms. These reforms it is argued will provide Portugal with a much more solid base to build a strong sustainable economy for the long-term.

It was felt that, for many years, Portugal struggled with a bloated and inefficient public sector which was not only a drain on public finances but also served as a barrier to private investment and entrepreneurship. One of the conditions of the economic bail-out which Portugal was forced to seek following the crisis was that these structural imbalances would be tackled. This process was always going to be a challenge but there are signs of progress and the economy is definitely showing signs of a return to healthy growth.

Given where Portugal is on its path to economic growth there is a strong argument in favour of looking at doing business in Portugal now. It is usually good to enter a market at the early stages of an upward trajectory and Portugal certainly fits that criteria.

If you are considering doing business in Portugal or already have contacts in-country, you would be well-advised to find out a little more about the very distinct business culture you will encounter there. Portugal remains a relationship-based business culture but how do you best form and maintain those relationships? What do you need to know about the key drivers of Portuguese contacts to allow you to maximise any potential commercial opportunities?
This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Portuguese 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