Portuguese Business Structures

Business structures in Portugal have always veered towards the strictly hierarchical — not surprising as most organisations have either been government-run or part of a larger family owned consortium. (The state has until recently owned more than 50% of the country’s assets with another large proportion being in the hands of a relatively small number of very wealthy and powerful families.)

Therefore, unless you are dealing with the subsidiary of a multi-national, it is best to expect that the organisation you are dealing with will have an extremely centralised decision-making approach with all decisions of any importance being made by a few key individuals at the top of the company. It is really important to make some time to understand the structure of the Portuguese business you are dealing with and to ensure that you are speaking to the right people. Time can be wasted trying to get decisions out of people who have little or no authority.

It is also worth bearing in mind that, even when dealing with a multi-national based in Portugal, the mindset of the company’s Portuguese employees might still veer towards a hierarchical structure even where one does not exist on paper.

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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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 Portugal. 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 Portugal 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:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips