Czech business culture guide - Learn about the Czech Republic

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http://businessculture.org - Find out about business culture in the Czech Republic. This guide is part of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project, which examined European Business culture in 31 countries …

http://businessculture.org - Find out about business culture in the Czech Republic. This guide is part of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project, which examined European Business culture in 31 countries looking at business communication, business etiquette, business meeting etiquette, internship and student placements, cost of living, work-life-balance and social media guide.

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  • 1.            |  1     businessculture.org Business Culture in Czech Republic   http://businessculture.org/easterneurope/czech-republic/ Content Template Last updated: 27.09.2013 businessculture.org   This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the view only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. Content  CZ  
  • 2.            |  2     TABLE  OF  CONTENTS   Business  Culture  in  the  Czech  Republic  ....................................................................................  4   Xenophobia: being a foreigner in Czech Republic...............................................................................5   International business in Czech Republic .............................................................................................5   General educations ................................................................................................................................6   Education standards ..............................................................................................................................7   Cultural taboos ......................................................................................................................................7   Business  Communications  in  the  Czech  Republic  .....................................................................  8   Face – to – face communication ...........................................................................................................8   Language matters ..................................................................................................................................8   Business relationship .............................................................................................................................9   Making Contact ....................................................................................................................................9   Personal titles.........................................................................................................................................9   Business  Etiquette  ..................................................................................................................  11   Corporate social responsibility ............................................................................................................11   Punctuality ..........................................................................................................................................12   Gift giving ............................................................................................................................................12   Business dress code ..............................................................................................................................12   Bribery and corruption........................................................................................................................12   Business  Meeting  Etiquette  ....................................................................................................  14   Importance of business meetings.........................................................................................................14   Business meeting planning ..................................................................................................................14   Negotiation process .............................................................................................................................15   Meeting protocol .................................................................................................................................16   How to run a business meeting ...........................................................................................................16   Follow up letter after meeting with client............................................................................................17   Business meals .....................................................................................................................................17   Business meeting tips ...........................................................................................................................18   businessculture.org   Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 3.            |  3     Internship  and  placement  .......................................................................................................  19   Work experience .................................................................................................................................19   Internship and placement advice ........................................................................................................19   Social security and European health insurance card ..........................................................................19   Safety ...................................................................................................................................................20   Do l need a visa?..................................................................................................................................20   Internship and placement salary .........................................................................................................20   Internship and placement accommodation ........................................................................................20   Cost  of  Living  ...........................................................................................................................  22   Money and banking ............................................................................................................................22   Travelling costs....................................................................................................................................22   Work-­‐life  Balance   ....................................................................................................................  23   National holidays.................................................................................................................................23   Working hours .....................................................................................................................................23   Work culture .......................................................................................................................................24   Health insurance .................................................................................................................................24   Social  Media  Guide  .................................................................................................................  25   SMEs ...................................................................................................................................................25   Search and Social Media Marketing for International Business .........................................................26   businessculture.org   Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 4.            |  4     Business  Culture  in  the  Czech  Republic   The following is a very short introduction to Czech Republic. External links at the end of this page provide you with more in depth information concerning different topics. The following video gives you an overview of the general facts: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9IVr_n1o8Q) The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe, which was formed on the 1st of January 1993, when Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved into its constituent states, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. The country is bordered by Poland to the north, Germany to the west, Austria to the south and Slovakia to the east and has an area of 78,886 km2. The population of the Czech Republic is 10,512,782 people, as of the 31st March 2013. Prague is the capital and largest city with 1.3 million inhabitants, followed by Brno with 366,757 inhabitants and then Ostrava with 310,078 inhabitants. The Czech Republic is the first former member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) to achieve the status of a developed country, according to the World Bank. In addition, the country has achieved the highest human development rating in Central and Eastern Europe, ranking as a “Very High Human Development” nation. It is also ranked as the third most peaceful country in Europe, most democratic and healthy, in terms of infant mortality(see Democracy Index and List of countries by infant mortality rate. businessculture.org   Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 5.            |  5     The Czech Republic has a low birth rate of 9.6 per 1,000 inhabitants, while the death rate is higher at 10.5 per 1,000 inhabitants (2004). This means more people are dying than are being born. According to the Czech Statistical Office, the age of the population is distributed as follows: 14.8% are 14 years old or younger, 68.7% are between the ages of 15 to 64 and 16.5% are 65 years or older. The main ethnic groups are Czechs at 94%, followed by Slovaks at 2% and the remaining population at (including Poles, Germans and Roma). The rate of unemployment in the Czech Republic is 8.3%, as of August 2012 and the economy has grown at an average rate of 0.51% since 1996. Since 1990, the Czech Republic has attracted around 10% of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI), making it the most successful transition country in terms of FDI per capita. The official language of the Czech Republic is Czech and its official currency is the Czech Crown (CZK). The Czech Republic is in the Central European Time Zone and adheres to CET (UTC +1) during the winter and CEST (UTC +2) during the summer. The Czech Republic is a parliamentary republic and a member of the European Union, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the Visegrád Group. The Czech Republic lies in a temperate climate zone, which is characterized by mild, humid summers with occasional hot spells, and cold, cloudy, humid winters with occasional arctic spells. The winter months are very cold at between 0° and -5°C and temperatures can drop as low as 30°C in extreme conditions. Summer temperatures average somewhere between 25°C to 35°C and can reach 40°C in the extreme. Xenophobia:  being  a  foreigner  in  Czech  Republic   The Czech attitude to foreigners in business is that of mutual respect, they respond well when they see that they can learn from foreign business associates. However, they may be quite unresponsive if they are not approached by individuals of equivalent status or expertise. The historical appreciation for anything foreign is no longer the case and products and services are evaluated on their own merits. Czechs have the utmost respect for expatriates working in the Czech Republic, but now this respect is more for the individual’s skills and knowledge, rather than just because they are foreign. International  business  in  Czech  Republic   When you visit another country on business, you expect some differences in how business is conducted. However, you do not always have sufficient time to learn these differences through personal experience. Sometimes, you will find yourself in a meeting only a few hours after your arrival, where your lack of local knowledge leads you to make basic cultural mistakes, which can have serious repercussions on your efforts. businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 6.            |  6     This section is intended to equip you with the basic ‘ground rules’ for doing business in the Czech Republic to ensure that you are sufficiently able to deal with most of the business situations that you may encounter. General  educations   It is useful for you to be aware of the educational and linguistic competencies of your business partners to help you prepare for your meetings and negotiations. Can you expect to find people who will speak your language or should you bring an interpreter? What is the general level of computer literacy? The Czech Republic has a high level of basic education and a long standing tradition in engineering and manufacturing excellence. Czech Universities have a good reputation in the European higher education community with most Czech managers being well-educated and having university degrees and possibly postgraduate degrees in Management, Engineering or the Sciences. Younger managers are now even travelling to Western Europe or to the USA for their Masters’ degree and for further practical experience at the professional level. Basic education at nursery and primary school level are free of charge and mandatory for every child born in the Czech Republic. The first step of schooling starts with nursery school (Materska škola), every child has the right to attend a nursery school from the age of 3 to 6, although places are sometimes limited and parents have to find a way to get their kids in or place them in a private nursery school at their own expense. Primary school starts at the age of 6 or 7, depending on the child’s ability, and is divided into two stages. The first stage of primary education takes 4 years and then the parents have to decide whether the child continues to the fifth year in the same school or changes to a different school. The reason for the change is that there are two types of schools at this level; comprehensive schools (Gymnasium) and vocational schools (technical). The comprehensive school is further divided into several specializations such as language, mathematics and science; vocational schools are divided according to trade. A higher percentage of students that attend a comprehensive school go on to university than those attending vocational schools. Most students finish their secondary education around the age of 18 or 19. After graduation the students going to university continue with their education while the other group joins the workforce. University education takes a minimum of 4 years for an undergraduate degree, depending on the subject matter and 5 years for a specialist engineering degree, which is accredited at the same level as a postgraduate qualification. Czech Universities have a solid reputation in terms of European education standards. Many local managers even after their acquiring their engineering businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 7.            |  7     degree (Ing.) will go on to study for a postgraduate degree, either locally, in Western Europe or at an American university. Education  standards   Education is the fundamental right of every citizen in the Czech Republic and every child is mandatory to go to school from pre-school till they are 18years. The standard of education in the Czech Republic is quite high and the university standard is also quite high. Cultural  taboos   In the Czech Republic, it is important to avoid mixing business with pleasure. Specifically, you should avoid asking questions about intimate personal subjects, such as your host’s personal age, health or finances. Czechs don’t like to flaunt their riches, so asking about where and how they live might also be inappropriate. Always pay attention to matters of social etiquette, wait to be invited to call someone by their first name and behave with common courtesy, especially when dealing with a woman. Czechs might sometimes overstep the acceptable level of making jokes during business meetings. However, some good topics of discussion are generally politics, the economy and important sporting events. businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 8.            |  8     Business  Communications  in  the  Czech  Republic   Communication is perhaps the most important aspect of doing business, yet we tend to take it for granted in our own country, because we are dealing with people from our own culture. This section is divided into three areas: communication, working practice, and dining out. It explains the differences between face-to-face communication, and dealing with people via the telephone or by letter/fax etc. How important is it to address people by their correct title? How should you introduce yourself? Should you always give your business card at the beginning of the meeting? How important is it to get things agreed in writing? We think that this covers most business situations. By reading this section, you should be sufficiently well equipped with the basic ‘ground rules’ for doing business in the Czech Republic. Face  –  to  –  face  communication   Czechs are not talkative by nature, tending to be indirect and cautious in their approach, to the point where it is necessary to read between the lines. This does not mean that the Czechs are trying to hide something, but that they are just not used to speaking their mind to a total stranger. In the case of non-verbal communications, Czechs are known for their cool heads and reserved attitude. Communicating with their hands or wild gesticulation is not typical of Czech behaviour. Be aware that maintaining eye contact is an important part of communicating your intentions in a business meeting; it shows your level of interest in the discussion and that you are listening. On the other hand, not making eye contact could be interpreted as deceptive behaviour and lack of interest. In the Czech business community, most members maintain a strict division between their work lives and their personal lives, which means they do not socialize with each other after working hours. This is a legacy of the political climate during communism and the situation is changing, with the younger generation adopting a more open approach to business. Language  matters   Many of the people in management positions in the Czech Republic are multilingual. Most speak English, Russian and/or German. On average, people above the age of 50 can speak a little bit of German, Russian and English whereas the younger generation mainly speak English, although French and German are also popular. University graduates will tend to speak more foreign languages than the general population. businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 9.            |  9     Most of the younger managers speak English fluently, which should negate the need for an interpreter. The foreign business partner should always confirm before a meeting if an interpreter is needed. It advisable that you learn a few greeting phrases to break the ice at the beginning of the meeting. Czech society is characteristically very formal and it takes time to develop a personal relationship. Too much familiarity is not welcome at the beginning of a business partnership. However, the level of formality lessens as the relationship develops towards a friendship based on trust. The Czech language differentiates between the singular and plural forms of address, and the plural pronoun is also used as a polite means of addressing someone that you do not know and showing respect to someone you do not yet have a personal relationship with. Czechs appreciate when a foreigner makes an attempt communicate in th Czech language, but it is important to use the correct forms of address and not to call someone by their first name or singular pronoun until invited to do so. Business  relationship   Czech small and medium sized enterprises welcome every opportunity to do business with foreign partners. For the majority of SMEs, it is assumed that a written agreement has priority over a verbal agreement. As it is always difficult to substantiate and refer to a verbal agreement, written agreements are always recommended. Making  Contact   You can also meet representatives of Czech companies in seminars and conferences abroad. Foreign partners are advised to make their first contact in written form, preferably by email. Communications should be addressed directly to a specific person who is able to make a quick decision, i.e. the Managing Director. If, after the first contact, it is discovered that the Czech manager speaks English, then the best and fastest way to make a more direct contact is to arrange a face-to-face meeting. Czechs prefer to have one-to-one negotiation. Personal  titles   Czech companies are still very hierarchical, which is why there is still a strong tendency to address the individual by their job title. In conversation with local business partners you should always address them by their job title first, or their academic title if that is not possible. Therefore individuals might be addressed as Mr. Engineer, Mr. Magister, or Mr. Doctor, pronounced docent. businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 10.            |  10     For example, if the name of the general manager of the company is Prof. Ing. Jaroslav Novák, DrSc., he should be addressed as ”Mr. General Manager“ rather than “Mr. Professor“. The use of academic titles in the business environment, for example professor (Prof.), docent (Doc.), doctor of science (DrSc.), raises the level of respect for the individual (especially within the older generation). In small and medium sized companies they do not put too much emphasis on positional titles, they prefer to use academic titles. Moreover older managers are used to calling each other with their titles, but the younger generation prefer to be addressed by their surname. In a business meeting held in English, both Czech and foreign partners will follow the English norm, i.e. Mr. Novak for men or Mrs. Nováková for woman and Ms. for a younger woman. In the Czech language, the surname for man and woman varies according to grammatical rules. For women you would add “ová” or “á” to the end of the name i.e. Mr. Novák becomes Mrs. or Ms. Nováková and Mr. Kyselý becomes Mrs. or Ms. Kyselá. This naming convention is the thing that confuses most foreigners when they are communicating with their Czech partners, because it does not translate into an English way of thinking. In the Czech language, the postpositions of ová or á are used only for surnames when addressing women. businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 11.            |  11     Business  Etiquette     Business etiquette focuses on the behaviour deemed appropriate in a professional setting and you’ll be more likely to make an excellent impression on people you encounter if you maintain a professional approach. Attitudes and values are the foundations that drive behaviour and that gives us clues to people‘s thought patterns and what they consider important. Understanding these little details could be the difference between a successful business partnership and a failure. Basic tips to follow when doing business in the Czech Republic • Greetings should include a firm handshake and direct eye contact, a weak handshake means that you are weak and no direct eye contact can be taken to mean that you are hiding something. • Remain standing until you are invited to sit down as there might be a seat reserved specifically for you. • Business appointments are mandatory and should be made in advance. • Punctuality for meetings is taken extremely seriously. • Business is hierarchical with decision-making power held at the top of the company. • Initial meetings are scheduled as introductions to get to know each other and to build trust with your Czech associates. The first meeting may be with a middle manager, rather than the actual decision maker. Expect some small talk and getting-to-know-you conversation before business is discussed. • Do not try to schedule meetings on Friday afternoon, as many Czechs leave for their country cottages after lunch, or during August, when many businesses are closed. • Czechs are non-confrontational and often take an indirect approach to business dealings. In negotiation, Czechs generally offer what they expect to get and do not often give counter-offers. • Business is conducted slowly. You will have to be patient and not appear ruffled by the strict adherence to protocol. • Maintain direct eye contact while speaking. • Do not remove your suit jacket unless the highest-ranking Czech does so first. • Presentations should be simple, accurate and detailed and, if necessary, you should have charts and figures to back up your claims. • Letters should be addressed to the company rather than to a specific person. This prevents a letter from being held up, if the person it is addressed to is away from the office. • Gifts are usually opened immediately after they have been received. • When dining, always refuse second helpings the first time they are offered. Wait for your host or hostess to insist and then accept graciously. Corporate  social  responsibility   Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns into their business operations and their interaction with stakeholders businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 12.            |  12     including employees, consumers, shareholders, investors, public authorities, non-governmental organizations and their suppliers, on a voluntary basis. Punctuality Punctuality is important because arriving late for a business meeting does not paint a good picture of you. Czech business society is becoming more tolerant, but only to a certain extent; 15 minutes is an acceptable delay, but we recommend being prompt. Gift  giving   Most business people do not expect presents at the first meeting, but small gifts such as a souvenir of the visiting business partner’s country are acceptable. Equivalents from the Czech Republic would be Becherovka herbal liqueur, Czech crystal, bijouterie, hand painted Christmas decorations, wooden toys and beer. Expensive presents are not recommended and most companies have a ceiling on the value of gifts that can be accepted. If the value of a gift is higher than the ceiling, it must be reported to senior management or rejected. If you are invited to your host’s home for dinner and wish to make a gift of flowers, you should avoid giving calla lilies, because they are associated with funerals. Business  dress  code   In the Czech business community your appearance is important. Therefore, you should choose conservative business attire and avoid bright colours when attending a business meeting, if you want to be taken seriously. Cleanliness and tidiness are a must. During normal office hours, the dress code can be less formal (shirt, trousers and jacket). For men, a dark coloured suit or jacket and trousers with tie is appropriate business wear, and women should wear something similarly formal and avoid anything that might be deemed provocative. Female managers prefer to wear suits. There is a saying that the way you dress shows your respect for your business partner. Large organisations set a dress code for their employees. In small and medium-sized companies, there are no dress codes (unless employees have to wear uniforms). So, people tend to wear business casual attire, unless they are expected to attend an important meeting. Bribery  and  corruption   businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 13.            |  13     Bribery and corruption is not acceptable but it is still prevalent in the global business environment. Both Czech and foreign business people use bribery as a tool to secure business contracts or to cut through bureaucratic red tape, when trying to get government contracts or even start a new business. Such bribery is publicly denied by both business and the government, even though it is widely used. The Czech Republic is 54th in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (2012) with a score of 49, which charts the level of corruption in 176 countries throughout the world. businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 14.            |  14     Business  Meeting  Etiquette     The safest practice when attending meetings in another country is to ‘act local’. Then you can be confident that your meetings will be successful and your hosts will appreciate your cultural sensitivity. There are a number of things you need to consider: • What are the local attitudes to business meetings? • How should you go about organising a meeting? • How do you greet people at meetings? • How should you run a meeting? • What do you need to think about when conducting negotiations? • What should you do after a meeting? Importance  of  business  meetings   In general, the first meeting with a Czech company is characterized by a high level of formality and politeness. Any decisions will depend on who is attending the meeting from the Czech side. If the owner or general manager of the company is present at the first meeting, then you can expect a quick response to whether a business arrangement is of interest; but if the company‘s representative is a departmental head or a subordinate, then they will have to brief the owner before a decision can be made. Once a verbal agreement has been reached, Czech companies prefer to have agreements written up under the direction of their lawyers. A lawyer’s involvement depends on the stage of cooperation, but verbal commitments are not regarded as legally binding, so it is important to have a general agreement drawn up in writing, even if it is not very detailed. Business  meeting  planning   • It is recommended to offer options for the dates and time of the meeting and give an indication of what will be discussed, which will give the participants the opportunity to plan and prepare for the meeting. • Make sure you get a confirmation of attendance from all the attendees prior to the meeting. • Set out the agenda of the meeting • Organize the meeting room and equipment (if needed) and seating arrangement • Arrange translator, if required. • Refreshment and drinks should also be arranged, depending on how long the meeting is scheduled for • Don‘t forget to produce copies of any documentation required for the meeting in the language of your business partner. businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 15.            |  15     Taking account of variable working hours, the best time for making contact or for having a business meeting is from 9am to 11.30am and from 12.30pm to 2pm. The host is in charge of organizing the meeting and has to create the best conditions for the smooth running of the meeting. During the first meeting, it is normal to start by introducing both companies and the initiating party will outline the goal for the meeting, lead the discussion of the problem and summarise the results of the meeting, which both parties must agree upon. The host will normally select meeting attendees according to the status and position of the foreign partner. In most Czech companies, the first meeting is made with a person in a middle management position. This middle manager will then present the results of the meeting to senior management, who will then make the decision on what the next step should be. If there is a subsequent meeting, a senior manager with decision-making power will normally participate. For Czech companies with older managers every international language is a foreign language, which can make communicating difficult. On the other hand, you can meet people who overestimate their abilities in a foreign language such that the potential for misunderstandings and miscommunication is much greater. It is important to treat each situation according to its merits and use a professional interpreter with industry-specific knowledge, where it is necessary to ensure that both parties have a precise understanding of the matter under discussion. If the Czech partner knows that their language skills are inadequate, they will organize a professional interpreter. You should advise the Czech side, if you are bringing an interpreter or if you would like to have one present. It is also possible for a meeting to be held in a third language, which puts both parties on a level playing field. It is recommended that you check with your Czech business partner as to which language the meeting will be conducted in. Negotiation  process   Czech negotiating can be divided into two different approaches. The older generation, the people who lived through communism, have a laid back attitude to negotiation, preferring to take their time before making a decision and not liking to be rushed into anything. They do not like aggressive, loud and fast-talking ‘young guns’ who think they know everything. They need to feel comfortable when negotiating, which means they prefer to talk to someone in their own age group with whom they can create a friendly atmosphere and crack jokes. The younger generation are more westernized. Most of them studied for their postgraduate qualification in either Western Europe or America, so their negotiating skills are more British or American than Czech. Where the older generation might start the meeting with a discussion about tourist sites in Prague, the younger person will likely jump straight into the business discussion with the aim of being as efficient as possible. businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 16.            |  16     Once both sides have reached an agreement, the Czech side will want a written confirmation with all the terms and conditions outlined in full. This is the nomal way that business is done and not because of any lack of trust. Meeting  protocol   The basic way of greeting people is by shaking their right hand and saying “dobrý den” (good morning/afternoon), “dobrý večer” (good evening) or welcoming phrases “vítám vás”(welcome) or “těší mne, že vás mohu přivítat v naší společnosti” (I am pleased to welcome you to our company). The host will always offer their hand first, regardless of gender. When shaking hands, you should have a firm handshake as a weak handshake can be taken to mean that you are weak or unsure of yourself. Conversely, a handshake that is too strong might be an indication that you will be inflexible and not open to proposals that might be put forward in the meeting. It is always good to maintain eye contact as a demonstration of openness and sincerity. You should avoid over friendly gestures like slapping on the back, hugging, kissing on the cheek or hands in any business situation. In all Czech business sectors everybody gives out business cards. Business cards are never exchanged during the greeting, but should be done at the beginning of the meeting, so that everybody knows with whom they are talking, what position they hold and for which company. Business cards are used as a means of introduction and to provide basic contact information. The exchange of business cards also enables you to identify a potential partner and helps you to know how to address that person. The function of the business card is becoming more important in the Czech business community and more thought and effort is now being put into their design. Even though the design of business cards should be simple and informative, some SMEs use it as a form of advertising. For most Czech companies, the language used on their business cards is Czech. Companies with international partnerships may have business cards with more than one language i.e. Czech and English. It is important to explain the position of the person to the foreign business partner, because of the potential for difficulties with the correct pronunciation of names and accurate translation of job titles. If written in Czech, a job title might sound similar to an equivalent position in another language, but the words could mean something totally different. How  to  run  a  business  meeting   If the Czech side is hosting the meeting, then they prepare the agenda and run the meeting. The senior manager from the Czech company will introduce their team, including their positions in the company and academic titles, at the beginning of a meeting. The senior member of the visiting team will then introduces their team and an exchange of business card between all the participants will take place. The Czechs will then present the agenda for the meeting and begin the discussion. businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 17.            |  17     During the meeting, some refreshments will normally be offered, such as coffee, tea, water and biscuits. The host has to prepare the minutes of the meeting, including the main points of the meeting, conclusions drawn from the discussion and a schedule of further steps to be taken. The meeting minutes are distributed within the week for review and approval and, if no modifications are requested, a confirmation of the agreement will be issued. Follow  up  letter  after  meeting  with  client   If it has been agreed to continue with the partnership, then the timetable plays a very important role in defining the activities of both business partners. After the tasks are formulated, deadlines are fixed and dates and places of future meetings are decided upon. In the case of one or both partners not seeing any future in their cooperation, each party has the right to terminate negotiations and a full explanation for the decision will then be expected. Business  meals   Sharing a meal is generally one of the more enjoyable aspects of doing business in another country. We have included it as a separate section because formal meals can represent an opportunity to develop social relationships, which can be essential for strengthening any long-term business partnerships. But this aspect presents a whole series of questions. Who pays? Should you offer to pay? When and what do they eat? Could you refuse a specific dish? Can you discuss business at the table during the meal or when is it most appropriate? Attitudes to Business Meals Most Czech business people would never contemplate hosting a business dinner in their own home. Inviting a business partner for dinner at home happens only after their relationship is far more personal. Therefore, most Czechs will invite their business partners to a local restaurant. There are no written rules on how to begin a conversation or when it is appropriate to talk about business. Mostly, it depends on the host and the business discussion will begin after the meal has been ordered, depending on how much time both parties have. Restaurant Etiquette The host will always choose the restaurant, make the reservation and pay for the meal, including the tip. An invitation to lunch will usually offered during the first meeting, whereas a meeting to finalize the details of a business agreement is usually held in the more formal surrounding of the company’s office. If the invitees will be meeting at the restaurant and not travelling together, it is recommended to arrive on time. There are no strict rules on where to sit, although if there are only two people, then you will probably sit opposite each other. businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 18.            |  18     The dress code for lunch and dinner would be formal business attire, such as a dark coloured suit for men and something equally professional for women. If you are not sure what to wear, it is best to ask the host for advice. Food and Drink In Czech culture you are not obliged to accept everything you are offered. The national dish is pork and cabbage with potato dumplings, but the type of food depends on the style of restaurant. A typical meal will consist of three courses: a cold appetiser or soup, main dish and desert; and it really does not make any difference if you finish your food or leave something on the plate. The Czechs have a beer drinking culture, so they will be morely likely to drink beer with a meal than wine, however guests should feel free to order whatever they prefer to drink. In the case of a more official business lunch or dinner, or when the occasion calls for it, the host may raise a toast to the business partner or success of the partnership. Other Issues (Including Restaurant vs. Home) Smoking is restricted in a number of public places in the Czech Republic and about 60% of restaurants are now non-smoking or have a separate area for smokers. However, smoking has not yet been officially banned in pubs or restaurants and is not taboo during a business meeting. It is common courtesy to ask whether anyone minds, before you smoke and it is best to follow the lead of your host and their preferences. Business  meeting  tips • Do not underestimate a Czech business partner; give them enough space during the meeting, listen to their ideas and recommendations and you may be surprised with different ideas and new ways of looking at things. • Come prepared and be confident, but not arrogant, because Czech managers are very sensitive to this. • Do not look down on your Czech partners. You want to gain their trust and overcome any perception of distance between you. There is a Czech rule that says that intelligent and well-educated people behave modestly. • You should present your opinions but not force them upon others as this was an approach that many Czech managers experienced during the economic transformation, and will likely alienate them as potential partners. • Both partners should come to the meeting table as equals and treat each other with respect and openness; active participation of both sides in the discussion will be taken as a sign of their interest. • If you have the feeling during the meeting that your partner is pessimistic or not active in the discussion due to their lack of understanding or self confidence, then you should simplify the presentation of your strategy, focusing on aims and expected results. businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 19.            |  19     Internship  and  placement     Work  experience   A placement involves the placement of a student in a temporary work or research environment to enable them to gain extremely valuable experience that will benefit them in the long term. Placements are sourced by outside agencies as well as university departments, and most opportunities are advertised through the internet or university career centres. In fact, most universities have career centres that will support and assist students with placement applications, as well as assistance in finding work that compliments their studies or a permanent position following their graduation. There are many types of placement: work placements, school placements and student exchanges. Some companies have placement departments to help integrate new hires into the company. They may also help with paperwork, especially if the candidate is from a different country. Placements are relatively new to the Czech business environment and many Czech companies are now trying to implement them, as part of their strategy to bring in newly qualified employees. Many companies now attend University open days across the country in order to attract students. These open days are useful to both the companies and the students, because it gives both parties the opportunity to discuss the possibilities of working together and to define expectations. Internship  and  placement  advice   The practicalities for a local student will be different to those of a foreign student. Local students will probably only need to discuss salary and duration for a work placement, whereas a foreign student will be concerned with many more issues including, accommodation, work permit (if needed), insurance, health care, banking and so on. Social  security  and  European  health  insurance  card   Students going to a different country for study placement or work placement should bring with them a valid health insurance card. The national health system in the Czech Republic is quite good, but there are a growing number of private hospitals. If you should have an accident whilst you are in the Czech Republic and emergency help is needed, 112 is the number for multilingual assistance to contact the Ambulance Service, Fire Service or the Police. The ambulance service is also contactable at the 155 number, but this is for assistance in Czech only. For less severe medical problems and over-the-counter medication, there are local pharmacies that can assist with minor businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 20.            |  20     ailments and most Czech Pharmacists speak English to some degree. “Lekarna” is the Czech name for chemist or pharmacist. There are three options for paying for hospital treatment in the Czech Republic: cash, credit card or medical insurance. As the Czech Republic is a member of the European Union, those coming from another EU member state are covered upon presentation of an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), form E111 or Provisional Certificate. Further information is provided by the Centre of International Reimbursements at: Safety • Emergency telephone numbers are, 155 for the ambulance service (local, usually communication in Czech only) and 112 (international, multilingual access to ambulance, fire and police services), 158 for the Police. • The electricity voltage in the country is 220 V; 50 Hz. • Tap water is perfectly safe to drink. • The speed limits are 50 km/h within inhabited areas; 90 km/h outside inhabited areas, 110km/h for motorway and 130 km/h on highways. Do  l  need  a  visa?   Citizens of European Union are allowed to travel between EU member states and the Czech Republic without first obtaining a visa. Residents of the United States are allowed tovisit the Czech Republic for a maximum of 90 days without requiring a visa, unless they intend to work or study. Most visitors from the rest of the world will need to apply for a visa, except where there is an agreement in place between the two countries. Temporary residence permits are available to those who wish to remain in the Czech Republic longer than 90 days and who are able to meet certain criteria required by the Ministry of External Affairs. Internship  and  placement  salary   A salary should be agreed before the start of the placement and that agreement is between you and the company. Some countries have a minimum hourly rate salary that is applicable to most or all employment situation. You should also consult with the company about your tax situation, if the company will pay income tax or social security tax including health and benefits. Internship  and  placement  accommodation   Most local universities have dormitories or hostels available to both local and foreign students. This accommodation is generally cheaper than renting a private flat. Some companies might also have businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 21.              |  21   cheaper accommodation for their employees as some sort of company benefits to compensate for less salary. businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 22.            |  22     Cost  of  Living     The cost of living in every country is different, that is why doing some investigation about where you are going is very important. The living standard in Czech Republic also varies by regions, the prices of some products and services in Prague (Capital) are sometimes twice as high as in other parts of the country. Students going for placement in the Czech Republic should visit the following websites to get an idea of what the prices for everyday items are Money  and  banking   The official currency of the country is Czech Crown (CZK). The country has over 30 commercial, mortgage and investment banks. If you are going to work in the Czech Republic then you may need to open a local account. All major credit cards are accepted in the Czech Republic, while personal cheques are not used or accepted. To open an account, you will need to show a form of photo identification (normally a student ID card and/or a valid Passport). Travelling  costs   The Czech Republic has one of the best and most efficient public transportation systems in the world. Metro, trains, trams and buses are generally clean and punctual and are the easiest and fastest modes of transportation in both the capital and country at large. There are student’s discounts available if you produce a valid student card for example International Student ID Card (ISID). businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 23.            |  23     Work-­‐life  Balance     Free time is important to everybody including business people, because that is their only chance of recharging their batteries. However, it is difficult for employees in small or medium-sized enterprises to find enough time because of the difficulties associated with running a business. This is primarily because smaller businesses have fewer numbers of employees and most of the strategic, day-to-day decisions are taken by one person, namely the director or owner of the company. National  holidays   These are public holidays (bank holiday): • 1st January – New Year • Easter Monday – Easter falls on a different date in late March or early April each year. • 1st May – Labour Day • 8th May – Day of freedom from fascism • 5th July – Slavic Apostles Cyril and Methodius • 6th July – The anniversary of the martyrdom of Jan Hus • 28th September – Day of Czech Statehood • 28th October – Day of Independence for Czechoslovakia • 17th November – Day of the Velvet Revolution, the date riot police suppressed a student protest leading to the fall of the Communist Party. • 24th December – Christmas Eve • 25th December – Christmas Day • 26th December – Boxing Day In the Czech Republic, all employees are entitled to four weeks holiday each year, normally distributed as one week in winter and three weeks in the summer. Working  hours   The Czech Republic‘s official working hours are 40 hours per week and employees get an annual vacation of at least 20 working days. If an employee is asked to work overtime, their total working hours must not exceed 52 hours a week (including 8 hours of overtime a week) and there must be a written agreement between both parties. In specific situations, a collective agreement may provide that scheduled working time for seasonal jobs may exceed 52 hours but are limited to a maximum of 60 hours a week. Generally, these rules are not rigorously enforced at the SME level, where employers and employees are more flexible. businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 24.            |  24     Work  culture   The work culture in the Czech Republic is quite formal and structured. The people pride themselves as been highly qualified and productive but you still have to keep a close eye on them so that they don’t slack off. Czech Republic has a number of legal measures protecting workers. All companies have to adhere to government regulations in the areas of health and safety, discrimination, minimum wage levels, part-time employment, and equal opportunities. Health  insurance   The social security system is overseen and managed by the state. It covers healthcare, pensions, and employment insurance, as well as child-related benefits and other social services. While all Czech citizens are guaranteed a minimum level of basic healthcare by the state, several independent, commercial health insurance companies have been established. All companies registered on the Czech Commercial Register must pay a total of 35% of their employees’ gross salaries towards social security and health insurance funds, which covers both the employer and employee mandatory contributions. businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 25.            |  25     Social  Media  Guide     Social media usage in the Czech Republic has been on an upward trend over the last few years, with the most popular network being Facebook. The number of registered Facebook users is 3,805,480, as of the 1st of November 2012, which is an increase of 194,480 in the last six months. This gives Facebook a penetration of 37.30% of the country’s population and 56.96% in relation to total number of Internet users. The largest age group is currently 25 to 34 with a total of 1,103,589 users, followed by users in the age range of 18 to 24 and then 35 to 44. The group with the highest rise in numbers in the last 3 months is the 18 to 24 year olds. LinkedIn is very popular as a networking site for professionals and entrepreneurs, as well as for university students who are using it to promote themselves to potential employers. Many head hunting agencies use LinkedIn as a reference to check for potential clients and the number of registered users in the Czech Republic is around 213,600. Twitter is not yet popular in the Czech Republic, but the overall usage seems to be trending upwards. There are many popular local social media networks in the Czech Republic, the largest of which is called ‘Seznam’. Having started as a search engine, Seznam now offers everything from a business directory service to a dating site to chat room and e-commerce. The total number of internet users in the Czech Republic is 7,426,376, which is about 73.0% of the population as at June 30th, 2012 (Internet World Stats. Oct. 2012). SMEs   Most companies in the Czech Republic now have some form of presence on the internet; some have just a company website while others have a Facebook page or LinkedIn profile. Many of these social media networks are used for different purposes and by different companies. The service sector, especially restaurants, hotels and other hospitality businesses, are heavy users of social media for both promoting their services and reacting to public comments about their establishment. Some companies use LinkedIn to advertise vacancies and find potential employees. These companies can also encourage their employees to join different groups on LinkedIn that might be beneficial to the company. businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 26.            |  26     Technology and manufacturing companies have been attracted to YouTube because video is an excellent means of showcasing products and demonstrating process improvements. YouTube also has the highest daily traffic of all social media network and many major companies use it to advertise current products and introduce new products for immediate customer comment, which allows companies’ to shorten the feedback cycle and improve customer relations. The biggest users of social media sites for advertising are internet shops selling fashion, mobile technology, household goods and everyday products, auction sites and dating sites. Most of them use local search engines like Seznam.cz, google.cz, volny.cz, atlas.cz and centrum.cz because they are more visible to local customers. Search  and  Social  Media  Marketing  for  International  Business   Learn how to use social media for business from one of Salford Business School’s latest business management courses. The course was jointly researched by the Passport to Trade 2.0 project team and prepared in collaboration with some of the leading digital marketing agencies in the UK. This Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) can help businesses and individuals to make the best use of search and social media platforms. The course is called Search and Social Media Marketing for International Business and is applicable to students looking for placements abroad as well as businesses thinking about new trade links; it comprises the following twelve topics: How to develop a personal brand online (1/12) • • Whether you are a student beginning a job search or a business person planning a new business venture, personal branding can make a difference. Learn about personal branding and why it is important for you. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=l9LYw0mgtn4&feature=player _embedded How to use Twitter (2/12) businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 27.            |  27     • • Learn the basics of using Twitter to develop an individual or business profile. Remember to use hash tag #SSMMUoS to share your learning journey on this course so far! http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=9CVY3pp91Dc&feature=playe r_embedded How to use Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) (3/12) • • Learn the principles of SEO to ensure that your website and any social media profiles are found by individuals searching for your name, products and services. These basic principles of SEO include keyword research, on-page optimisation and off-page optimisation. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=zw27cRcwtM0&feature=player _embedded How to use social media for international business development (4/12) • • Social media networks break down the traditional country barriers, but do you know which networks are relevant for the country you are interested in trading with? Find out in this video how to identify the relevant networks and what social media strategies you might be able to use on these networks. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=Bx-B56AHS4c&feature= player_embedded How to use Facebook (5/12) businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 28.            |  28     • • Facebook is currently the largest social media network in the world and it can benefit you as a business as well as an individual. Learn how to develop a Facebook business page and see how other businesses use it and what strategies work for them. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=UmRGn-vdcO8&feature= player_embedded How to use YouTube (6/12) • • YouTube was identified as the second largest social network amongst younger internet users as part of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project. Learn how to optimise your video content in order to reach wider audiences for your profile. http://www.youtube.com/watch? feature=player_embedded&v=G2 0OVpmTBss How to use LinkedIn (7/12) • • LinkedIn is one of the three main professional social networks – the others being Xing and Viadeo which are also popular in several European countries. Learn how to make the most of LinkedIn for your profile. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=N6e_EAUQqic&feature=playe r_embedded How to use Google+ (8/12) businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 29.            |  29     • • • Google+ is the second largest social network as of January 2013. It is one of the fastest growing social networks and one that has the biggest impact when it comes to search engine results integration for anyone who uses Google as their main search engine. Learn how to make the most of Google+ for you and your digital profiles. http://www.youtube.com/watch? feature=player_embedded&v=8ti 3SPHkEWw How to use copywriting online (9/12) • • Copywriting is a process of translating technical specifications and product descriptions into engaging and understandable customer focused text. Learn about the basic techniques in structuring your online content here. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=5f1hx_f2ONI&feature=player_ embedded How to stay legal on social media (10/12) • • Everything and anything you do and say online can be potentially viewed by anyone who has internet access. Always respect the law and familiarise yourself with new options offered to you through a creative commons licence which is popular online. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=eQxDpiHsdk&feature=player_embedde d businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 30.            |  30     How to use monitoring and reporting (11/12) • • Whether you are an individual or a business spending time on social media – there has to be a return on your engagement online. How do you justify your engagement on social media to your boss? Listen to the industry experts in this area and see what you might be able to measure in respect of your on-line engagements. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=LbEq7jsG0jg&feature=player_ embedded How to blog (12/12) • • http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=OqVjR7oI8Rs&feature=player _embedded businessculture.org     • Blogging is a process of writing text and sharing content with others. It can help your customers or friends to keep in-touch regardless of social media platforms. Think about the voice you might want to adopt and who your audience might be. Share your thoughts with us by writing a blog post about this MOOC. Tweet us the link to your post on the #SSMMUoS Twitter hash tag. Content  Czech  Republic  
  • 31.              |  31   Passport  to  Trade  2.0  Project  Partnership   Five Universities: Lead partner: Salford Business School, University of Salford, United Kingdom Elena Vasilieva Aleksej Heinze Alex Fenton URENIO research unit at Aristole University of Thessaloniki, Greece Christina Kakderi Nitsa Papadopouloui TSE Entre Research Centre Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, Finland Satu Aaltonen Elisa Akola Institute for Information System Research University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany Verena Hausmann Susan P. Williams Petra Schubert Valahia University of Targoviste, Romania Adriana Grigorescu Leonardo Badea Three Small & Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) Spin, Italy Carmine Antonio Donato Dorella De Tommaso Technology Development & Innovation – TDI LTD Bulgaria Milanka Slavova Ivan Stoychev TIS Praha, Czech Republic Anna Klosova Richard Adekeye businessculture.org     Content  Czech  Republic