Business structures in the USA are incredibly varied but tend to have several characteristics in common.

Firstly, the company is an entity in its own right and exists independently from its employees. Members come and go, perform necessary tasks at particular points in the life cycle of the company and then leave when no longer required for the wellbeing of the organisation. The relationship between employer and employee is a transactional one – where relationship and sentiment are a luxury which cannot be justified. Current economic conditions and the increasing influence of technology-based communication methodologies have only increased this disconnect between the employee and long-term, stable employment conditions. In a country where job-mobility and virtual working are increasing, transferable skills become the key to future success.

Secondly, the CEO of an American organisation holds great sway within the company. Senior management is more embedded in the personality at the top than in some other countries such as Germany where senior management is collegiate in approach. Although the company will have a Board of Directors, the Board is highly unlikely to have any input on the day-to-day running of the company which is left very much in the hands of the CEO who stands or falls on results. This can be seen as a high risk, high reward approach – it can bring great success but also spectacular failure.
Thirdly, accountability within the company tends to be vertical and easily observable. Americans like to know exactly where they stand on a particular issue, what their responsibilities are and to whom they report. When job security is weak you would really like to understand the extent of your liability on any particular issue.

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

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 the USA. 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 the USA 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