Top Tips on Portugal

Tip 1
Portugal has made very significant economic and commercial strides since the Revolution of 1974 opened to the rest of the world. It is no longer a predominantly agrarian society and boasts an increasingly high standard of living.

Tip 2
However, change comes slowly in what is still a conservative and traditional country – hierarchy and paternalistic management style still persist and many would say are still the norm.

Tip 3
Government-run corporations dominate the economic landscape despite a number of high-profile privatisations.

Tip 4
As companies (both state-owned and private) tend towards the hierarchical, decision-making powers lie in the hands of a few senior managers at the top of the organisation.

Tip 5
Make sure you are dealing with the right people. Don’t waste time trying to get people to make decisions who do not have the real authority anyway.

Tip 6
Management style is paternalistic and managers are expected to manage through giving clear instructions.

Tip 7
Subordinates will rarely disagree openly with senior people – they will however raise any concerns in private.

Tip 8
Managers are expected to be authoritarian but also to be caring. They should take an interest in the well-being of colleagues who will, in turn, be expected to show loyalty.

Tip 9
Managers are expected to be authoritarian but also to be caring. They should take an interest in the well-being of colleagues who will, in turn, be expected to show loyalty.

Tip 10
Decisions are often taken in small lobbying sessions prior to the meeting. Try to become part of this pre-meeting lobbying process.

Tip 11
Punctuality is less rigid than in some other countries. People may arrive late for meetings; deadlines may be seen as guidelines.

Tip 12
Agendas are not always produced at meetings and, if produced, may not be adhered to – or even referred to.

Tip 13
Co-operative, open teams in which people share responsibility for well defined goals are a rarity. Team members expect to work on specific allocated tasks as determined by a strong leader.

Tip 14
Family names are often used in business circles – try not to use first names unless specifically asked to do so.

Tip 15
Academic titles are highly respected so, if you have one, use it on your business card.

Tip 16
The Portuguese are, on the whole, non-confrontational in business dealings and will often say things in meetings which they think will please – this can often mask their true opinions.

Tip 17
Although women are making rapid progress in the business world, it is fairly unusual to meet a senior female executive in a local Portuguese business.

Tip 18
Appearance is important and smart clothes (although not necessarily suit and tie) should be worn.

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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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