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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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