Spanish Business Structures

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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    Spain has had a rollercoaster ride over the past twenty years from an economic perspective. The country went through a classic boom and bust scenario. The Spanish population felt the highs and lows of a rapid growth in living standards only to be then battered by a massive downturn leading to wage stagnation and record levels of unemployment – especially amongst the younger generation.

    Things seem to be picking up however and the hope is that Spain has weathered the economic storm and is poised for a period of solid, manageable GDP growth which can help to drive the country into a more prosperous and sustainable future. Some painful lessons have been learnt the hard way and future economic consolidation will be built on stronger foundations going forward.
    If you are thinking of doing business in Spain, the economic signals are positive and now is probably a good time to approach the market. The country has a highly educated workforce and a strong middle-class consumer base. As a key member of the European Union, Spain has well established trading links throughout Europe. Add this to its position as ‘the gateway to South America’ and its geographic proximity to North Africa and Spain starts to look like a highly attractive market.

    However, if you are thinking of doing business with Spain it is extremely important that you do some homework before diving into any initial relationship-building activities. What are the key motivators of potential partners or clients in Spain? How are decisions arrived at and what is the best approach in terms of communication? Studying Spanish business culture will help you make the right impressions from the outset.

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