Business culture in Spain

  • Hi everybody! My company just moved me to Madrid and I will be in charge of setting up our operations here. However, I am not really familiar with Spanish business cultures and manners. Any advice?

    07 jun 2007, 06:33 Terry
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  • Culture in Spain

    Hi Terry, this info might be helpful:

    Face - Spanish culture places a large emphasis on personal pride. Therefore, causing loss of face through criticism or embarrassment should be avoided at all costs. During business meetings, for example, it is essential that your presentations are comprehensible in order to avoid any embarrassment that may occur from possible misunderstandings. In addition, when dealing with your Spanish counterparts you may also find that competence and control are important elements of their work ethos and crucial for saving face. This may often result in your Spanish colleagues insisting that everything is in order, even if it is not.

    Individualism - In terms of personal attributes, individualism is highly valued in Spain, along with an emphasis on character and social status. Spanish culture highlights the importance of self and one’s family. However, influenced by its collectivist past, family values, a sense of identity and belonging to a group, are also integral parts of society in Spain. Consequently personal qualities, appearance, image and personal relationships are extremely significant components in contemporary Spanish culture. In a business context, personal attributes and character are frequently valued as much as technical ability, experience or professional competence.

    When doing business in Spain, you will find that individualism is particularly predominant in management, where Spanish managers are less inclined to favour group decision making and team orientation.

    Uncertainty Avoidance – This is a vital element of Spanish culture that refers to the cautious approach the Spanish take towards new ideas. In Spain, individuals tend to avoid ambiguity, but often accept a familiar risk situation. Spain's attitudes to rules, regulations and structure are important for maintaining a sense of control in a typically uncertain situation. In business, managers in Spain generally prefer to have precise answers to questions and give precise instructions in order to reduce conflict. In addition, you may find that the Spanish amenable nature to initial business suggestions is often hindered by a considered and tentative approach to final decisions.

    Europe’s third largest country, Spain has experienced a turbulent and reverberating historical past, including the dissolution of the Spanish Empire, civil war, fascist dictatorship and the relatively recent introduction of democracy, all of which have had a significant impact on the Spanish cultural psyche. The Iberian Peninsula’s geographical position opened up Spain to numerous invasions and created an influx of divergent cultures and civilisations. As a result, Spanish culture has evolved immensely and continues to grow. Even the strict religious influences have given way to more modern influences. After establishing itself as a member of NATO, Spain joined the European Union in 1986. Subsequently, the country’s economy increased significantly, placing Spain firmly on the Western economy map and supplying Spain with one of its major trading partners. Over the last four decades Spain’s social and economic structure has changed substantially. Today, it portrays a highly developed and stable democracy in which potential business prospects can be assisted through an awareness of the Spanish cultural system that has shaped this country.

    Betty 07 jun 2007, 06:34 - Denunciar
  • Doing business in Spain

    Doing business in Spain is similar to doing business in the rest of Western Europe. A few tips, though, may help you in developing your business relationships in Spain.

    Greetings
    While many Spaniards will meet each other with a kiss on both cheeks, this is not common in business relationships unless you know the other party well. It is wisest to offer a handshake, and if a kiss is appropriate, the Spanish party will initiate it. (And note that you don't kiss their cheeks. You kiss the air while touching cheeks.)

    Addressing a person
    Spanish people have two first names and two surnames, composed of their father's first surname and their mother's first surname. Use Señor or Señora as you would Mr. or Mrs.

    Business meetings
    In the first meeting, Spaniards will want to become acquainted with you before proceeding with business, so you should be accommodating and answer any questions about your background and family life. Spaniards will really check to see if you are honest and reliable, to know they can place their trust in your products or business before starting a relationship.

    It is unlikely that a meeting will stick closely to a detailed agenda. Negotiations in Spain tend to be quite open with one party taking the lead, but agreements can be flexible and you will probably need to persevere in order to ensure that commitments are put into effect. Understand that your goal is to do business in Spain, not to impose a business culture.

    Business meals
    If you want to discuss business at lunch, you should mention this in advance so the Spanish counterpart is ready to discuss the issues with you. Meal times in Spain are generally considered the time to relax and enjoy oneself rather than to close deals. More typically, the deals are done at the office, and then after the successful negotiations, you all go to celebrate at a restaurant. If the Spanish party wants to be nice with you, they will most likely invite you to go to a nice restaurant. The one who extends the invitation is the one who foots the bill. Bills are rarely split in Spain, regardless of the circumstance. If you have been invited out, you should reciprocate at a later date, being careful not to give the impression that you are simply 'repaying' your earlier hosts.

    Conversation
    The Spanish are great conversationalists, this is how they spend their free time. Ask them about their children or family; few subjects are taboo. The Spanish are proud of their food and wine; you'd be wise not to disagree. Don't be surprised if an evening out lasts until the late hours (nor will they be offended if you leave because you can't keep your eyes open). Spanish presentations can tend to be long-winded; expect it and don't get frustrated. If you're female, don't be surprised if they compliment you and tell you you look good. You can compliment them back if you feel like it or just say thanks. There's no culture of political correctness in Spain.

    Spaniards do not, on average, speak English as well as a Northern European. Many companies in Spain have staff with good English language skills, but an initial approach in Spanish is more effective.

    Regions
    Spaniards derive a sense of identity from their particular region rather than the country as a whole so you should try to be sensitive to regional differences and to avoid making misinformed comments about a Spaniard's region of origin. There are seventeen autonomous regions, each with a different degree of independence from Madrid, and each has its own individual characteristics; you should respect local sensibilities and manners without recourse to stereotypes or caricatures.

    Working hours, holidays
    In Spain, the hours that a shop and business may be open to the public are regulated by the government. Shops are usually open from 9:00 am to 1:30 or 2 pm, then from 4:30 or 5 pm until 8 pm, Monday through Friday, and Saturday morning. Large department stores are open all day. Professional offices usually open from 10 to 2, then from 4 to 7, though it is becoming more common for businesses to stay open through the traditional siesta hours. Banks are open from 10 to 2, then by law, they can choose either to open one afternoon a week, or on Saturday morning. In August, when most people take their vacations, office hours change to jornada intensiva: 8 am - 3 pm.

    Lunch is between 2 pm and 4 pm. Most people in Spain eat at home, though in big cities, it is common to go to a restaurant and have a menu (and avoid the double commute). Dinner is generally a lighter meal; 10pm is the normal time at restaurants.

    There are national, state, and local holidays. For a list, go to Spain's Social Security site, and on the left side, click on "Mas informacion", then "Calendario laboral". When a holiday falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday, it is common in the office to take the preceding Monday or following Friday off.

    Tipping
    At restaurants, bars, and taxis, it is typical to leave the small change, though you won't get dirty looks if you don't.

    Time and punctuality
    The famous mañana joke, besides being dull, is also not true. If you want to give a good impression, you should be on time, and can expect that the Spanish party will be on time too.

    Smoking
    There is now a regulation against smoking in public places, though as with many regulations, there is some degree of leniency. Spaniards are among the heaviest smokers in Europe. Californians will just have to accept that it may be impossible to persuade a smoking colleague to abstain from the habit, even at the dining table. If smoke is an issue to you, look for a smoke-free restaurant, bar, or hotel: now you can find them, and of course complain if it is not fullfilled.

    Gifts
    At Christmas, most companies give their employees a hamper or basket of fancy foods and drink (cestas de Navidad). It is also common to celebrate a fiesta de Navidad with a lunch in a fancy restaurant. Companies often send bottles of cava, champagne, or wine at Christmas to their best clients.

    At the conclusion of successful negotiations, it is not uncommon to give a gift to a broker or professional (including a bank officer) who was especially competent. If you receive a gift, you should open it immediately in front of the giver. Any gift should be a high-quality item, and should be finely wrapped. Companies often send those at Christmas to their best clients. Markenting merchandise will be more appreciated if it is a fine pen or a tasteful desk accessory. You should not give anything too personal or extravagant as your generosity may be perceived as rare or even insulting. If you are invited to a Spanish home, flowers, a dessert, or a good bottle of wine is the right gift.

    Dress
    In Spain the look of the person one is doing business with is important. Classic brand names such Loewe or Luis Vuitton are very appreciated, also Hugo Boss or Hemenegildo Zegna, less so Ferragamo or other Italian names. Look fashionable and smart if you want to cause a good impression; clean your shoes and get your hair in order.

    Men are best off in dark subdued colours: preferably tailor-made woolen or linen suits, and white cotton shirts with silk ties. Women should wear well-cut suits of high-quality fabric. Designer clothes and brand names will be noted with approval. The female business traveller should emphasize their femininity through their immaculate clothes and hair.

    Business casual means a clean and fashionable designer cotton shirt and good pants, and of course, no tie.

    If an invitation to a party says formal, it means real formal: a black tuxedo for men and a cocktail dress for women, always in conservative colors. For these events, women wear more make-up, and have their hair done professionally. For men keep in mind that the Spanish cut of the suit is different than the American or British cut.

    From http://www.strongabogados.com

    Paul 07 jun 2007, 06:35 - Denunciar
  • Business manners in Spain

    This info is also quite helpful:

    Spain & Spanish business culture Part 1 - Working in Spain (Pre-departure)

    Working practices
    Working hours can vary across Spain. Generally speaking, offices open at approximately 09.00 and close mid-evening, with a two-hour break around 14.00. However, Spanish working hours have become more "Europeanised" in recent years, particularly in the northern cities.
    Business appointments should always be made well in advance in Spain and confirmation via letter or fax beforehand is advised. It is best to arrange initial business meetings for mid-morning due to the relatively unusual structure of the Spanish working day.
    Punctuality is expected of foreign visitors; however, you may sometimes find your Spanish counterparts arrive up to 30 minutes late.
    Structure and hierarchy
    Hierarchy and position are extremely significant in Spanish business culture. For this reason it is advised to work with those of equal rank rather than with someone of a lower business status.
    The distinct hierarchical structure of Spanish businesses means the authority to make decisions rests with the individual in highest authority.
    Subordinates are respectful of authority and are generally far removed from their superiors. Spanish business culture advocates subordinate initiative where problems are dealt with at lower levels first before approaching superiors for assistance.
    Working relationships
    An essential part of conducting business in Spain is establishing personal contacts. Generally speaking, the Spanish prefer to do business with those they are familiar with, therefore obtaining personal contacts enables the negotiation process to advance more swiftly and successfully.
    Establishing solid business relationships and building colleague rapport is a vital concept in Spanish business culture. Effective business negotiations and decisions are frequently based on trust and personal feelings, as well as concrete evidence.
    The Spanish close sense of personal space and animated means of expression and communication can be seen as part of this emotion directed culture.
    Spain & Spanish business culture Part 2 - Doing business in Spain

    Business practices
    The decision-making process in Spain is usually unhurried and can be a gradual, detailed procedure that involves consideration from various levels within the company. In this respect, maintaining good relationships with your Spanish counterparts from all positions are vital for success.
    When arriving at an appointment it is advised to present your business card to the receptionist. Wherever possible, business cards should be printed in English on one side and in Spanish on the other. You should present your card with the Spanish side facing the recipient.
    An initial introduction at both business and social meetings generally include a formal handshake whilst making direct eye contact and is extended to everyone present, male and female.
    Business etiquette (Do's and Don'ts)
    DO remain patient in all dealings with your Spanish counterparts. The Spanish are sometimes noted for their relaxed approach to business and Spanish bureaucracy can be frustrating. However, be wary of the 'mañana' stereotype as you will find that certainly in the northern regions such as Catalonia and the Basque Country that deadlines and punctuality are much more closely adhered to.
    DO try to maintain a friendly and personal atmosphere during negotiations. In order to be effective in Spain, Spanish business culture also requires a sense of self-dignity, consideration and diplomacy.
    DO use basic titles of courtesy, Mr, Mrs, or Miss, followed by the surname, and professional titles, such as Dr, where known. Particularly with older counterparts or those in the south of Spain. Care should also be taken in using the correct surname as Spaniards have two, their father's first surname and their mother's first surname. Normally the father's surname is used on its own.
    DON'T expect to enter into business discussions at the start of a meeting. Your Spanish colleagues will want to establish a familiar environment on which to build new business relationships. This may include asking personal questions regarding your family life and background.
    DON'T presume that business can be explicitly discussed over meals, it is generally considered a sociable activity and therefore you should wait until your Spanish colleagues initiate such conversation. Despite this, business lunches and dinners are a vital part of business life in Spain as a means through which to establish trust and future business relationships.
    DON'T display signs of over assertiveness or superiority. Your Spanish counterparts will appreciate a more modest approach to business negotiations.

    Klaus 07 jun 2007, 06:36 - Denunciar
  • foros negocios Spain

    Hi. Podemos intercambiar sobre posibilidades de negocios en España y tu pais... tomando unas tapas por el Madrid clásico... con amigos...
    Tambien te ofrezco oficina en Madrid para tu negocio, así como alojamiento por semanas si fuera necesario.

    Angels y Maximiliano 29 jun 2007, 03:04 - Denunciar
  • foros sobre negocios

    Mis contactos son
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    Angels y Maxi 29 jun 2007, 03:05 - Denunciar
  • Hi Terry this is Anne from Kuwait




    Hi,
    Greetings to you from Falcon Logistics Co.W.L.L.Kuwait.
    Ours is a trading and contracting company with diversified interest in the
    field of business in Kuwait.We have a fleet of flat beds,low
    beds,reefer-vans,tankers & dumtrucks to meet all your transportation
    requirement with in Kuwait and Iraq.Our trucks are rented out on long and
    short term basis.We have our own yard for the manufacturing of portable
    cabins.And we undertake all types of construction works also .

    Well I would like to know if you have any requirements in the field of
    transportation,trading,or construction.We have our own yard for
    manufacturing portable cabins .We have heavy equipments like forklifts and
    cranes for your construction purpose .We do trading in hardware materials
    also.
    This is just a brief description about our company,which I hope would
    enable us to start a new relation in the field of business.Well I would
    like to know if you are looking for any kind of ground support from Kuwait
    in the field of marketting or any other business .I wanted to now as to
    how we can co-operate with each other to help establish our business in a
    good way , which would bring about positive results.

    Lets join our hands together to bring about a positive change in our
    fields.Please dont hesitate to call or mail us with your questions.

    We would be honored if given a chance to serve you.Hoping to hear from you
    soon.
    If you would like to know more about us please log on to our web site
    www.bigfalcon.com

    Best Regards
    Anne

    (Business Development Manager)
    +965 4344541(Desk Phone)


    ANNE S ISSAC 02 sep 2007, 10:24 - Denunciar
  • TERRY THIS IS ANNE FROM KUWAIT


    Hi,
    Greetings to you from Falcon Logistics Co.W.L.L.Kuwait.
    Ours is a trading and contracting company with diversified interest in the
    field of business in Kuwait.We have a fleet of flat beds,low
    beds,reefer-vans,tankers & dumtrucks to meet all your transportation
    requirement with in Kuwait and Iraq.Our trucks are rented out on long and
    short term basis.We have our own yard for the manufacturing of portable
    cabins.And we undertake all types of construction works also .

    Well I would like to know if you have any requirements in the field of
    transportation,trading,or construction.We have our own yard for
    manufacturing portable cabins .We have heavy equipments like forklifts and
    cranes for your construction purpose .We do trading in hardware materials
    also.
    This is just a brief description about our company,which I hope would
    enable us to start a new relation in the field of business.Well I would
    like to know if you are looking for any kind of ground support from Kuwait
    in the field of marketting or any other business .I wanted to now as to
    how we can co-operate with each other to help establish our business in a
    good way , which would bring about positive results.

    Lets join our hands together to bring about a positive change in our
    fields.Please dont hesitate to call or mail us with your questions.

    We would be honored if given a chance to serve you.Hoping to hear from you
    soon.
    If you would like to know more about us please log on to our web site
    www.bigfalcon.com

    Best Regards
    Anne


    Anne Shaji Isaac
    B D Manager
    Cell:+965 683 5650
    Phone:+965 434 4541 Ext 103
    Fax:+965 434 4542
    E-mail:
    Website: www.bigfalcon.com

    ANNE 02 sep 2007, 11:31 - Denunciar
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