No other European country has undergone the same amount of dramatic changes which have been seen in Portugal since its 25th April Revolution.

The 1974 revolution ended almost 50 years of dictatorship and heralded in the dawn of a new country, keen to shed its colonial past. The country moved rapidly, from an almost third world status, to become a valued member of the modern European Union – this progress has, however come under enormous strain post the 2008 recession and Portugal has a hard road ahead to recover from its crippling systemic debts.

However, despite the changes that have undoubtedly taken place in the country, Portugal still suffers from a number of inherent difficulties which many observers, both internal and external, see as real brakes on the further development of the economy. The biggest problem faced by the country seems to be the continuing (and seemingly unchanging) burden of a vast and largely inefficient public sector. This public sector issue is often charged with not only producing ongoing Budget difficulties but also stifling private sector initiatives and vitality.

Private sector business is changing from a tradition of autocratic, family-run business conglomerates dominating the commercial landscape, to a much more varied landscape, where the influence of inward investment from major MNCs is starting to have a pronounced effect.

The Portuguese business scene is, therefore, in a state of flux with new ideas and business models competing with more traditional approaches and ideas. You really need to do some research and find out which type of business and people you are dealing with — new breed or old breed.

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