Spanish Business Structures

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.


    This country-specific business culture profile was written by Keith Warburton who is the founder of the cultural awareness training consultancy Global Business Culture

    Global Business culture is a leading training provider in the fields of cross-cultural communication and global virtual team working.  We provide training to global corporations in live classroom-based formats, through webinars and also through our cultural awareness digital learning hub, Global Business Compass.

    This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Spain only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.

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