Portuguese Management Style

A recent major survey done on Portuguese management style concluded that the local approach tends towards the paternalistic, as is often found in strongly hierarchical cultures. (This was seen as a strongly negative result by the authors of the survey who were American — highlighting the difficulties of such studies. Hierarchy is, of course, not universally viewed as a negative and a much higher percentage of the world’s business organisations are run along hierarchical lines.)

A good manager in Portugal combines an authoritative approach with a concern for the well-being and dignity of employees. Managers should be authoritative but never authoritarian. As Portugal is a strongly relationship-oriented business culture, it is important to show that, although you are firmly in control, you also have a warm, human touch.

Instructions should be given clearly and precisely and subordinates will be expected to follow those instructions with little or no discussion. Failure to give exact instructions can lead to frustrations when actions remain uncompleted.

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