When conducting business in Spain, it is essential to ascertain exactly what type of company you are dealing with.

It is usually possible to put organisations into one of four main categories:

  • PYMES (pequenas y medianas empresas) which are small, often family firms
  • INI or the government controlled sector which is being scaled down
  • The MNC sector with many well established subsidiaries (although not very large in size)
  • The native Spanish sector which is beginning to reassert itself through mergers and increased levels of investment from a developing stock market.

    Each of these categories will exhibit somewhat different tendencies but will again have some commonalties. The PYMES and INI companies will exhibit the most traditional characteristics which will include tremendous respect for the position of the boss along with slowness of response and wearisome bureaucracy (especially in the INI group of companies.)

    However the key issue which will bind most companies within Spain is the power and influence of hierarchies. In studies done across Europe, Spanish managers interviewed show the highest attachment to the idea of the importance and necessity of hierarchy within an organisation. Hierarchy is seen as a positive rather than a negative and a failure to show respect to any existing hierarchy could be viewed very negatively indeed.

    The important fact to take on board with relation to Spanish attitudes to hierarchy is that the respect which is given to the person not to the position or the structure. It is a hierarchy that is based on interdependent relationships rather than on interdependent functions and as such differs from hierarchies to be found in, say, France or Germany.

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

    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 Spain. 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 Spain 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