Background To Business in Russia

Russia has emerged from a decade of post-Soviet chaos and disintegration to reassert itself as a major player on the world stage – both politically and economically.

President Putin and the inter regnum President Medvedev have restored public confidence in the country and vast oil and gas reserves have resulted in growing political and economic influence. Russia cannot be ignored – it needs to be understood.

As an enormous geographic area, it is dangerous to ever generalise about Russia but certain universal truths do, however, typify the Russian approach to business and life in general. Firstly, it is always worth bearing in mind that for centuries (long before the advent of the Soviet system), the state has always been seen as an organ of oppression and repression. Laws and statutes are therefore seen as the enemy and to be avoided and evaded at all costs. Contracts are valid only if supported by a close personal friendship and taxes are left unpaid on both a corporate and personal level.

Secondly, the only things that can be relied upon are close personal relationships within the business environment. Networking and extended interpersonal allegiances are essential to successful business and the importance of resource allocation to ensure the development of good quality relationships should not be underestimated.

Thirdly, the legal status of many things in Russia is very dubious. Who actually owns what assets? The laws are being rewritten constantly and are, in any case, often unenforceable without the right level of political influence. Thus, most agreements have to be made on a trust basis – a strong element of which has to be clearly identifiable self-interest. The legal basis of any arrangement will probably mean very little once the relationship breaks down.

Despite these issues, Russia has been identified as a high-growth potential market with opportunities in market sectors as varied as banking and finance, technology and computing, infrastructure development and education.

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Russia is the world’s largest energy exporter which should mean that its economy is strong and that its people prosper. However, a combination of oil price volatility and the impact of economic sanctions put in place in response to perceived Russian military aggression have resulted in years of recession. This has left the country’s potential unfulfilled, as well as an infrastructure crying out for massive levels of investment

Russia does undoubtedly have massive potential. It has boundless natural resources, with a highly educated population who are aspirational and consumerist in nature. If Russia can regain its position as a mainstream player on the global political stage, then it is poised for a very bright future.

So, should you be thinking about doing business in Russia? That’s a difficult one to answer but our advice would be that there is a huge potential up-side in Russia but that before venturing into such a complex market it is essential to do considerable research and due diligence. This advice is sound for any new market but it is doubly applicable when doing business in Russia.
One area of business in Russia that needs research is around the cultural norms you will encounter within the Russian business community. They do things differently in Russia and you need to know what to expect. Who you know is vitally important in Russia but how you interact with key contacts is just as important. Don’t spend months cultivating the right people only to alienate them by doing the wrong thing or communicating in an inappropriate manner.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Russian 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