German business culture guide - Learn about Germany
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German business culture guide - Learn about Germany

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

http://businessculture.org - Find out about business culture in Germany. 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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    German business culture guide - Learn about Germany German business culture guide - Learn about Germany Document Transcript

    •            |  1     businessculture.org Business Culture in Germany   http://businessculture.org/westerneurope/business-culture-in-germany/ Last updated: 27.09.2013 businessculture.org   This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Content   cannot be publication reflects the view only of the author, and the Commission Germany   held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
    •            |  2     TABLE  OF  CONTENTS   Business  Culture  in  Germany  ....................................................................................................  4   Xenophobia: being a foreigner in Germany ........................................................................................ 5   General Education ............................................................................................................................... 6   Educational standards .......................................................................................................................... 7   Other Issues such as transportation infrastructure ............................................................................... 7   Cultural taboos ..................................................................................................................................... 8   Business  Communication  ..........................................................................................................  8   Face-to-face communication ................................................................................................................ 9   Language Matters............................................................................................................................... 10   Business Relationships ........................................................................................................................ 11   Making contact ................................................................................................................................... 12   Personal Titles .................................................................................................................................... 12   Business  Etiquette  ..................................................................................................................  14   Corporate Social Responsibility ......................................................................................................... 14   Punctuality .......................................................................................................................................... 15   Gift giving ........................................................................................................................................... 15   Business Dress Code ........................................................................................................................... 16   Bribery and corruption ....................................................................................................................... 16   Business  Meeting  Etiquette  ....................................................................................................  18   Importance of Business Meeting ........................................................................................................ 18   Business Meeting planning ................................................................................................................. 18   Negotiation process ............................................................................................................................ 19   Meeting protocol ................................................................................................................................ 20   How to Run a Business Meeting ........................................................................................................ 20   Follow up letter after meeting with client ........................................................................................... 21   Business meals .................................................................................................................................... 22   Business Meeting tips.......................................................................................................................... 23   businessculture.org   Content  Germany  
    •            |  3     Internship  and  placement  .......................................................................................................  24   Work experience................................................................................................................................. 24   Internship and Placement advice ....................................................................................................... 24   Social security and European health insurance ................................................................................. 24   Safety .................................................................................................................................................. 24   Do I need a visa? ................................................................................................................................ 25   Internship and placement salary ........................................................................................................ 25   Internship and placement accommodation ........................................................................................ 25   Cost  of  Living  ...........................................................................................................................  26   Money and Banking ........................................................................................................................... 26   Traveling costs .................................................................................................................................... 26   Work-­‐life  Balance   ....................................................................................................................  26   National holidays ................................................................................................................................ 27   Working hours .................................................................................................................................... 27   Working culture .................................................................................................................................. 28   Health insurance ................................................................................................................................ 29   Social  Media  Guide  .................................................................................................................  30   Private individuals .............................................................................................................................. 30   SMEs .................................................................................................................................................. 31   Search and Social Media Marketing for International Business ........................................................ 32   businessculture.org   Content  Germany  
    •            |  4     Business  Culture  in  Germany   The following is a very short introduction to Germany. 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=n8K9FZo4OlI) Germany is located in northern central Europe and covers an area of 356,750 km². Sharing its borders with nine other European countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, and Switzerland), it is strategically positioned in the middle of one of the world’s most active trading zones. From its position on the North Sea and the Baltic Sea in the north, Germany has easy access to the Nordic countries and the United Kingdom. Germany’s capital is Berlin which is the country’s largest city in terms of area and one of the most influential centres in European politics and culture. With a population of more than 80 million people, Germany is the largest European economy and one of the largest economies in the world in real terms. Germany is also one of the world’s top three exporters. The official language is German. Including variations it is spoken by millions of people in other countries such as Austria, Switzerland, and parts of some Eastern European countries as well. This makes German one of the top ten most spoken languages in the world. Approximately 1/3 of the German population is Protestant (predominantly in the northeast and central regions) and another 1/3 is Roman Catholic. Germany is in the time zone of UTC+1. However, during summertime (March to October) the clock is changed to UTC+2. The climate and temperatures vary according to region and season. However, all four seasons are experienced throughout Germany. In the south in particular, winters can be cold and businessculture.org   Content  Germany  
    •            |  5     clammy, with lots of snow, especially in the mountains. Summers tend to be moderately warm and pleasant. Today Germany is divided into sixteen States (in German these are called Länder). 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Baden-Württemberg Bayern Berlin Brandenburg Bremen Hamburg Hessen Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. Niedersachsen Nordrhein-Westfalen Rheinland-Pfalz Saarland Sachsen Sachsen-Anhalt Schleswig-Holstein Thüringen Germany is further subdivided into more than 400 districts (Kreise) and cities (kreisfreie Städte). However, the history of the country and how it was established is a long and bumpy road that has included wars and occupation. Politics in Germany functions within a framework of a federal parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Federal Chancellor is the head of the government, and of a pluralist multi-party system. As mentioned above Germany is a federation consisting of 16 States (Länder), all with their own constitutions, governments and parliaments. The States are primarily responsible for policing and education, and for the implementation of most federal policies. Most issues of economic policy fall under the jurisdiction of the federal-level institutions. Executive power is exercised by the government. Federal legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament. The federal parliament is made up of a directly elected lower house (Bundestag) and an upper house (Bundesrat), which is made up of representatives of the state governments. Since 1949 the party system has been dominated by the conservative Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party of Germany. Xenophobia:  being  a  foreigner  in  Germany   In recent years, the German-speaking countries of Europe have been confronted with demographic changes due to decades of immigration. These changes have led to renewed debates (especially in the Federal Republic of Germany) about who should be considered German. Non-ethnic Germans now make up around ten per cent of the German population, mostly the descendants of guest workers who arrived in the 1960s and 1970s. Roughly one in every five foreigners living in Germany was born abroad and is thus a second- or thirdgeneration immigrant. One third of the Turkish, Italian and Greek citizens living in Germany were born there. In addition, a significant number of German citizens, although traditionally considered ethnic Germans, are in fact foreign-born and thus often retain the cultural identities and languages of their native countries in addition to being Germans, a fact that sets them apart from those born and raised in Germany. There are four national minorities in Germany: the Danish minority, the Friesian ethnic minority, the German Sinti and Roma and the Sorbs. All four groups come under the businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •              |  6   Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, which Germany ratified in 1997. The minorities’ languages – Danish, North and Sater Friesian, Romany, and Lower and Upper Sorbian – are promoted under the terms of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which Germany ratified in 1998. All four national minorities enjoy a rich cultural life, which is supported financially by both the Federal and State governments. Integration is a long-term process intended to ensure that all lawful and permanent residents are included in German society. Immigrants are encouraged to take part in all areas of society, as fully and as equally as possible and are required to learn German and to be familiar with Germany’s constitution and laws and to respect and abide by them. The Federal, State and local governments all share the responsibility for ensuring this although it is acknowledged that integration also requires a major effort on the part of society. General  Education   Germany has one of the world’s highest levels of education and many famous universities. But university attendance still lags behind that in many other European nations. Germany prohibits home-schooling; however, this is still practiced by a number of people and there has been some campaigning for government prosecution of this practice. German educational ideals differ considerably from other countries’ educational philosophies. The emphasis is on socialisation, debate, vocal participation in class and critical faculties. With the “mittlere Reife” after the 10th grade (usually at the age of 16), German pupils can also begin an industrial education instead of choosing to go on until the 12th or 13th grade. This vocational education is called the Dual Educational System (“Duales Ausbildungssystem”) and consists of education at a company as well as attendance at a vocational school (“Berufsschule”). For a period of three years, you are an apprentice in the company. The practical parts of your job description are taught at the company, while the theoretical parts are mostly taught at vocational schools. After three years there are exams held by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (“Industrie- und Handelskammer”) after which companies are normally expected to employ their former apprentices or at least some of them since they have been expensive to train. However, unfortunately, because of the subsidies given to companies taking part in the dual educational system, some companies have begun to train the apprentices for three years and then exchanged them for new apprentices with the attendant subsidies. For higher qualified work, German companies expect German universities to complete the education of their potential employees. Training-on-the-job is either uncommon or simply an introductory activity for students, as companies demand ready-to-go employees from the educational system. Common job offers demand 2+ years of work experience, a young age profile and better than average skills. Most German universities are State-owned and are very nearly free of charge. Only a student fee of about 100 to 300€ per Semester (6 months) needs to be paid. Additionally, university students are often supported by the so called “BAföG” (which is dependent on parental income), and is a federal subsidy, going up to €290 per month as interest free credit plus €290 as a direct payment. businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •              |  7   In Germany there are several academic degrees. Traditionally, the lowest degree has been the Magister (in Arts) and the Diplom (in Science and Engineering). Over the past few years the traditional degrees are gradually being replaced by European standard Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. A Diplom (University), Magister, or Master’s student can proceed to a doctorate. Sometimes incorrectly regarded as an academic degree, the Habilitation (Professur) is the highest academic title in Germany. Educational  standards   The Basic Law of 1949 grants every German citizen the right to self-fulfilment. In theory, citizens are able to choose the type of education they want and are given access to their preferred occupation or profession. The goal of educational policy is therefore to provide each citizen with opportunities to grow personally, professionally, and as a citizen in accordance with his or her abilities and preferences. The 16 German “Länder” provide equal educational opportunities and quality education for all, through a variety of educational institutions and training programmes. Other  Issues  such  as  transportation  infrastructure   Transportation When setting up a business in Germany, it is imperative to be aware of all the relevant distribution channels, transport options and accommodation choices available to you and your business. Germany is the largest EU country located at the heart of the continent and is therefore an important transport hub for north/south and east/west routes. Travelling By Public Transport Major cities in Germany have an integrated transport system that includes a fast rail network (“S-Bahn”), trams (“Straßenbahn”) and in many cases an underground system (“U-Bahn”). All these modes of transport run to a strict timetable, and outlying areas are well-served by bus connections to over ground services. Before you travel on public transport in Germany, buy your ticket either from a machine, named “Fahrausweise”, or a ticket desk the “Fahrkartenschalter”, to avoid incurring a heavy fine. Your ticket is only valid if you have stamped it before you start your journey. The stamping machine is called an “Entwerter”. Travelling By Train Germany’s nationwide rail network (mostly run by Deutsche Bahn) features tracks of a total of 36,000 km in length. Long-distance and local rail timetables are coordinated to ensure good connections. For details contact the following: www.bahn.de [de] [en] [fr] [es] [it] Travelling by Taxi Taxis are cream-coloured and plentiful and can be hailed in the street or hired at one of the many taxi ranks. A tip of 10% is normally given on top of the fare. Travelling By Car businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  8     Germany has quite a good road network. Along the Autobahn in particular you can find many gas stations, motels and kiosks which are open around the clock. Unless road signs indicate otherwise, there is no speed limit on the German Autobahnen although the recommended top speed is 130 kph. In built-up areas the speed limit is 50 kph and 100 kph outside cities. Germany does not have autobahn tolls. Seat belts must be worn by law. Travelling By Plane Over 100 international airlines fly in and out of Germany. The global network of routes connects the 18 international airports in Germany with over 800 destinations in the world. The largest airports are in Frankfurt/Main, Munich and Düsseldorf. All airports boast prime connections to the local and regional transport network. Cultural  taboos   There are no real taboos in Germany that do not apply in other Western countries. Northern Germany (especially Berlin) is more relaxed about etiquette than Southern Germany. However, there are a number of issues considered inappropriate that you should be aware of in order to avoid insulting your German counterparts and disrespecting their views and ideals: • • • • • • • • Do not be afraid to approach Germans. They are very direct and honest people: if they can or want to help you, they will, if not, they will tell you so. It is important to bear in mind that Germans speak in a curt manner – this is just the way they are and is not meant as an act of rudeness. When making or answering a phone call, first introduce yourself by saying your name (most people use only their last name, but you can also use your first name). It is considered impolite if you do not give your name even when you use other polite greetings such as “hello” or “good morning”. It is impolite to cross your arm over people who are shaking hands It is rude to chew gum in business environments. Talking while your hands are in your pockets is also considered impolite When having a meeting or visiting a restaurant men should always take off their hats. Be tactful with regards to the subject of the Second World War. The legacy of the war is well understood by Germans and jokes about it are looked upon as improper. What might appear from an outsider’s perspective to be “an innocent joke” might actually go down in a much more awkward and offensive way. Understanding and respecting these issues will make a significant contribution towards understanding German culture and building and maintaining strong and solid business relationships. Business  Communication   The following section focuses on the communication aspects of business practice and outlines practical points that you should consider and use when making contact with a German counterpart. In business and in the workplace, on the domestic front and in our social lives, we all stand to benefit from more effective communication skills. Every country has its own way of saying things. The important thing is what lies behind people’s words. Communicating across businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  9     cultures begins with the basic understanding that one size does not fit all. Simply because you practice certain cultural habits or patterns does not mean the rest of the world does as well. Failing to recognise and adapt to this cultural diversity can mean the difference between success and failure. The main criterion for effective communication is to understand the culture of the country. Culture provides a framework for acceptable behaviour and the differences in ideals need to be recognised, valued and appreciated before any real communication can take place. Gestures and styles of conversation may vary between your country and Germany. Topics and gestures you may deem normal and acceptable could possibly be viewed as taboo here. Such errors in communication may have a serious impact on the success of the negotiation process. While Germany is an extremely culturally aware nation, they also have expectations when it comes to others understanding their culture as an independent country – so preparation is a must if you are to build a positive image from the beginning of negotiations. To become successful as a cross-cultural communicator in Germany: • • • • Remember that while your own culture provides an acceptable framework for behaviour and belief, your preferences and behaviours are culturally based and not necessarily the “correct” or only ones. Become sensitive to a range of verbal and nonverbal behaviour. Have an open mind to other views and ways of doing things. Remember there are no universal gestures The following section will provide you with information on both verbal and non-verbal communication issues in Germany. It focuses on the initial stage of contact as an important factor examined together with the application of communication skills in business practice in Germany. The general business practices discussed will apply to the majority of everyday business dealings and situations. However, it is crucial to bear in mind that the recommendations outlined are indicators of best practice and one should include distinctive local customs, habits and traditions when doing business in Germany. Face-­‐to-­‐face  communication   First impressions are very important to Germans, and may impact upon the outcome of your business relationship with your German counterpart. There are a number of verbal and nonverbal communication issues you should consider when doing business with a German. Non-verbal Communication • • • Generous personal distance is found between speakers in a conversation. At least an arm’s length between two speakers is generally expected. Eye contact is expected and respected. Uninterrupted eye contact can be awkward for those not used to such etiquette; however, eye contact demonstrates attention and interest in a conversation. Avoiding eye contact may be interpreted as conveying the opposite message while in Germany. Direct eye contact is especially true when toasting. (Say “Prost!” when toasting with beer and “Zum wohl!” when toasting with wine). businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  10     • • • • • An extended middle finger is an obscene gesture, as is pointing the index finger at one’s temple especially while driving. German behaviour in public is generally reserved and formal. Thus, waving and shouting at a person who is far away may attract negative attention. Germans enjoy quietness and privacy. They may thus often close their doors but will be happy to receive you if you knock on the door. A closed door does not necessarily mean that the person cannot be disturbed. In a meeting context, an exchange of business cards usually takes place. Cards do not necessarily have to be printed in German. Having a good supply of cards is advisable. Any title above a bachelor’s level should be included on your card. Germans show their appreciation of a presentation at the end of a business meeting by rapping their knuckles against the table top Verbal Communication • • • • • • Do not call people at home after 10 p.m. unless you have asked them first if it is all right to do so. Do not expect to reach anyone in the office after 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and after 4 p.m. on Fridays. When answering the phone in Germany, it is common to identify yourself by your last name. World War II and the Holocaust may be uncomfortable topics for some Germans, particularly elderly individuals. If such matters come up in conversation try to speak sensitively and / or neutrally if you do not want to risk causing offence. It may be prudent to avoid initiating such a discussion unless you are confident your company would be amenable to it. Germans are at the same time reserved and direct. They take their time to warm towards you while speaking their mind immediately. Do not be offended! It is not meant to be a personal assault. In general conversation, Germans are very straightforward and often use only a few polite, chatty phrases. Typically, they get to the point rather quickly and expect to have results at the end of a meeting. Noting and making use of these examples is recommended when doing business in Germany. Language  Matters   German is the official and most spoken language in Germany and also in Austria. It is the native tongue of more than 100 million people. It is also one of the four official languages of Switzerland (along with French, Italian, and Romansh). German is also spoken in dialect form throughout Luxembourg and by much of the population of the regions of eastern France formerly known as Alsace and Lorraine, and in a small area of Belgium. It is further spoken in the north-Italian border regions of Tirol and Ticino (formerly parts of Austria), and in isolated communities widely scattered throughout Eastern Europe, notably in Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania (Transylvania), and Russia (Volga region). Outside Europe, dialect German continues to be spoken in large emigrant communities in southern Brazil, South Africa, Australia, and the United States. Around every tenth book that is published worldwide is written in German. Minority languages in Germany include Sorbian, Danish, Romany, and Frisian. Turkish, Kurdish, Polish, the Balkan languages, and Russian are the most spoken languages of immigrants. businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •              |  11   Furthermore, a lot of Germans speak different dialects. The variation among the German dialects is considerable, with only the neighbouring dialects being mutually intelligible. Low German, most Upper German and High Franconian dialects, and even some Central German dialects when spoken in their purest form, are not intelligible to people who only know standard German. Within the European Union, German is the language with the most native speakers. As a foreign language, German is the third most taught worldwide. It is also the second most used language on the Internet. In addition, for more than 30 years, nearly everyone in Germany has been taught at least one foreign language (primarily English) at school. Thus, more than half of the population is able to speak at least one foreign language and 1/3 is able to communicate in at least two languages other than their own. However, one should not overestimate their capabilities. Once it comes to specific business, legal or technical terms outside of their particular area of expertise, misunderstandings are common. They may think they perfectly understand their counterpart and vice versa, when in fact both sides are entirely missing the other side’s point. To avoid disputes, one should elaborate rather than rely on the other side’s understanding of specific terms. Most business people in Germany have a very good command of English. Nevertheless, it is recommended to make the first contacts in writing in German – providing your German is good enough. Business  Relationships   Germans value order, privacy and punctuality. They are prudent, hardworking and industrious. Germans respect perfectionism in all areas of business and private life, and in their approach to work they tend to focus on achieving the task at hand. This, coupled with their well-defined structures, implies that interpersonal relationships play a secondary role in business dealings. There is a strict separation between private life and work in Germany and therefore it takes time to forge more personal relationships. Business relationships with Germans are often based on mutual advantage, with the overall task as the central focus. The attention paid to targets to be achieved is evidenced, for example, in the precision of timetables, meeting planning and achievement of milestones. Close adherence to time schedules is also considered vital. Following the established protocol is critical to building and maintaining business relationships in Germany. As a group, Germans are suspicious of hyperbole, promises that sound too good to be true, or displays of emotion. Communication is very formal and Germans tend to be direct, almost to the point of bluntness. German businesspeople do not operate an open-door policy. People often work with their office door closed and counterparts are expected to knock and wait to be invited in before entering. German business culture has a well-defined and strictly observed, vertically structured hierarchy, with closely defined responsibilities and distinctions between roles and departments. Management style has a reputation for being relatively risk-averse. Professional rank and status in Germany is generally based on an individual’s achievement and expertise in a given field. Academic titles and backgrounds are important, conveying an individual’s expertise and thorough knowledge of their particular area of work. Germans display great deference to people in authority, so it is imperative that they understand your level relative to their own. In Germany, there is a sense of community and social conscience and a strong desire for belonging. To admit inadequacy – even in jest – is incomprehensible. businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •              |  12   Expect a great deal of written communication, both to back up decisions and to maintain a record of decisions and discussions. Even if you have a friendly or casual relationship with colleagues, you should remember that on-the-job correspondence means that an e-mail is a business letter, in which salutations and greetings should not be forgotten. As stated previously, in Germany, it is generally customary to state your surname when you answer the phone. In accordance with corporate identity trends, the customary way to answer a phone at a German company is to state the name of the company, the name of the person answering the phone, and a greeting. Making  contact   The Germans in general are typically conservative as far as physical gesturing is concerned. Unlike in France, men never kiss men, and public displays of affection are not common, particularly in a business environment. Public gestures of affection tend to be reserved for close family and friends. Germans will usually smile at strangers (in a shop for example) to be polite, but don’t be offended if they don’t – this is just part of a generally reserved culture. Germans value and keep a larger personal space around them than do inhabitants of other European countries. However, it is not unusual that when queuing to pay at a shop, Germans will stand very close to the person in front of them. Courtesies such as handshaking and politeness go a long way, to create a good image to your German counterpart. In business situations, shake hands both at the beginning and the end of a meeting. People who have worked together for years still shake hands each morning as if it were the first time they had met. Additionally, a handshake may be accompanied with a slight bow. Reciprocating the nod is a good way to make a good impression, as failure to respond with this nod/bow (especially to a superior) may get you off to a bad start. Be sure to look directly into the person’s eyes while shaking hands. When being introduced to a woman, wait to see if she extends her hand. Germans tend to make eye contact often, so try to maintain it when it is made with you. This is a sign of attentiveness, so don’t be quick to assume it is a threatening gesture. As this is just part of the culture it is not uncommon for eye contact to be made on the street as well, again with no aggression intended. Expressive use of the hands is minimal in most conversations. Do not use exaggerated or indirect communication styles during business meetings with your German counterparts. It creates an impression of insincerity and dishonesty. As business people tend to be formal and conservative, business relationships are formal, orderly and professional. Keep the hierarchy in mind and always address your message to the appropriate person in the organisation. Personal  Titles   Titles are very important to Germans. Do your best to address people by their full, correct title, no matter how extraordinarily long that title may seem to foreigners. This is also true when addressing a letter. businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  13     First names are reserved for family members and close friends. In German business culture, it is not uncommon for colleagues who have worked together for years not to call each other by their first names. Until you know otherwise, or have developed a personal relationship, it is very important to refer to your German colleague with his or her title (respectively, Herr and Frau for Mr. and Mrs.) plus the last name (do not use the first name until you have established a friendship). If someone is introduced to you with an additional title (e.g., Dr.), use it. This is a formal culture until people get to know each other. • • • • Mr. = Herr (i.e. Herr Muller) Mrs. (or Ms.) = Frau (i.e. Frau Muller) Dr. (male) = Herr Doctor (i.e. Herr Doctor Muller) Dr. (female) = Frau Doctor (i.e. Frau Doctor Muller) If speaking German to your counterparts, use the formal version of you (“Sie”), unless someone specifically invites you to use the informal “Du” form. It is usually best to let your German counterpart take the initiative of proposing the informal form of address (this implies readiness to develop a personal relationship). businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •              |  14   Business  Etiquette     Attitudes and values are the foundation of every country’s culture, and are the building blocks for developing business culture. Cultural influences, attitudes and behaviour vary within and across nations and within and across ethnicities, and are strongly embedded within communities. In many respects, Germans can be considered the masters of planning. This is a culture that prizes forward thinking and knowing what they will be doing at a specific time on a specific day. The German thought process is extremely thorough, with each aspect of a project being examined in great detail. Careful planning, in one’s business and personal life, provides a sense of security. Most aspects of German living and working are defined and regulated by structure, for example, through laws, rules, and procedures, which are evident in all economic, political and even social spheres. Rules and regulations allow people to know what is expected so that they can plan their lives accordingly. Germans believe that maintaining clear lines of demarcation between people, places, and things is the surest way to lead a structured and ordered life. In German business culture, this is reflected in the adherence to prescribed business rules resulting in, a low degree of flexibility and spontaneity in attitudes and values. Germans do not like surprises. Sudden changes in business transactions, even if they may improve the outcome, are unwelcome. Business is viewed as being very serious, and Germans do not appreciate humour in a business context. In addition, counterparts do not need or expect to be complimented. Work and personal lives are rigidly divided, and Germans subscribe to the ideal that there is a proper time and place for every activity. When doing business in Germany, it is essential that you appreciate that business etiquette is of great importance to your German counterpart. Germany is a nation that is strongly individualistic, and demands the utmost respect at all times, therefore the highest of standards are expected. Any unethical behaviour will seriously diminish all future business negotiations. Business executives who hope to profit from their travels in Europe should learn about the culture and customs of the countries that they wish to visit. Flexibility and cultural adaptation should be the guiding principles for doing business in this country. Business manners and methods, religious customs, corporate social responsibilities, are all covered in the following sections. Some of the cultural distinctions that businesspeople most often face include differences in business styles, attitudes towards the development of business relationships, attitudes toward punctuality, gift-giving customs and the meanings of colours and numbers. The following sections give an insight into the values, attitudes and culture of Germany. Corporate  Social  Responsibility   The German government takes environmental issues in the country extremely seriously and the inclusion of the Green party in the ruling coalition over the past few years has greatly businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  15     influenced Germany’s energy and environmental policy objectives. From phasing out nuclear power to promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy, Germany has become a pioneer within the EU in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in making alternative fuel sources viable. As a result, Germany has become the world leader in wind energy. Despite this however, emissions from coal-burning utilities and industries contribute to air pollution and acid rain in Germany, and are damaging the country’s forests. Pollution in the Baltic Sea from raw sewage and industrial effluents from rivers in Eastern Germany, along with hazardous waste disposal remain environmental problems for Germany. In 2000, the government established a mechanism for ending the use of nuclear power over the next 15 years. The government is also working to meet the EU’s commitment to the preservation of nature. Germany leads Europe by having the greatest solar and wind electricity generating capacity on the continent. Punctuality   Germans are most comfortable when they can organise and compartmentalise their world into controllable units. Time, therefore, is managed carefully, and calendars, schedules and agendas must be respected. Trains arrive and leave on time to the minute, projects are carefully scheduled, and organisation charts are meticulously detailed. Do not turn up late for an appointment or when meeting people. Germans are extremely punctual, and even a few minutes delay can offend. If you are going to be even slightly late, call ahead and explain your situation. Be five to 10 minutes early for important appointments. Gift  giving   Gift giving among business associates is not common in Germany. There has recently been a move towards concentrating much more on the actual business at hand, and less on formalities and rituals like gift giving when travelling on business. However, for more social occasions, gift giving is relatively customary. The following issues are important to note when considering giving a gift: • • • • • • • • A visitor thinking of giving a gift should choose one that is small and of good quality, but not overly expensive. Acceptable gifts at business meetings are items of office equipment, good quality pens with your company’s logo or liquor When invited to a German home, it is appropriate to bring a gift of flowers, wine, chocolates, or a small gift that represents your home country or region. Flowers should be given in uneven numbers and unwrapped (unless wrapped in cellophane). Avoid presenting 13 of any kind of flower or red roses. However, this rule does not apply to bouquets arranged/wrapped by a florist. Do not give red roses as they symbolise romantic intentions. Do not give carnations as they symbolise mourning. Do not give lilies or chrysanthemums as they are used at funerals. Gifts are usually opened when received. businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  16     Germany generally has the same traditions as most other European countries in terms of gift giving. Business  Dress  Code   Germans take great pride in dressing well, regardless of where they are going or what position they hold. Appearance and presentation is very important to Germans, particularly with regard to business. Even when dressed informally, they are neat and conservative; their clothes are never ostentatious. The following points give an insight into the correct dress code suitable for conducting business in Germany: • • • • • • Being well and correctly dressed is very important. Casual or sloppy attire is frowned upon. Business dress in Germany is understated, formal and conservative Businessmen should wear dark coloured, conservative business suits; solid, conservative ties, and white shirts. Women also dress conservatively, in dark suits and white blouses or conservative dresses. This form of dress is observed even in comparatively warm weather. Do not remove your jacket or tie before your German colleague does so. Women are recommended to refrain from wearing heavy make-up and ostentatious jewellery or accessories. Do not be surprised however, if occasionally you do see a fashion statement with white socks being worn with a dark suit. Bribery  and  corruption   According to www.transparency.org, with a score of 79 out of 100, Germany is ranked 13th out of 176 according to the corruption perceptions index (CPI) The construction sector and public contracting, in conjunction with undue political party influence, represent particular areas of continued concern and the German government has sought to reduce both domestic and foreign corruption. Strict anti-corruption laws apply to domestic economic activity and these are rigorously enforced. Germany ratified the 1998 OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in February 1999, thereby criminalising bribery of foreign public officials by German citizens and firms abroad. The necessary tax reform legislation ending the tax write-off of bribes in Germany and abroad became law in March 1999. Germany has signed the UN Anti-Corruption Convention but has not yet ratified it. The country participates in the relevant EU anti-corruption measures and Germany has increased the penalties for bribery of German officials, for corrupt practices between companies, and for price-fixing by companies competing for public contracts. It has also strengthened anti-corruption provisions applying to support extended by the official export credit agency and tightened the rules for public tenders. Most State governments and local authorities have contact points for whistle-blowing and provisions for rotating personnel in areas prone to corruption. Government officials are forbidden from accepting gifts linked to their jobs. Some individual States maintain their own registers and pressure is growing to reintroduce such legislation at a Federal level. businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •              |  17   Transparency Deutschland, the German Chapter of Transparency International, sees a national corruption register as one of its main goals in Germany, closely followed by Freedom of Information legislation at Federal and State level, and a speedy ratification of the UN AntiCorruption Convention placing bribery of parliamentarians on the same level as bribery of public officials. The German government has successfully prosecuted hundreds of domestic corruption cases over the years with numbers rising significantly over the last two years. To date, charges have been filed in only one case involving the bribery of foreign government officials since the 1999 changes in German law were enacted to comply with the OECD AntiBribery Convention. businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  18     Business  Meeting  Etiquette     Meetings come in all shapes and sizes, and are more important than ever in business today. There are everyday office meetings, board meetings, and seminars. Meetings can now be conducted in a plethora of ways: face-to-face, by teleconference, videoconference, or online via the Internet. Meetings are a common feature of corporate life in Germany. The contents of the meeting and the appropriate negotiation strategies should take into account the cultural habits and customs of the country. The appropriate steps should be taken in preparing an agenda and it is advisable to circulate agendas in advance to ensure everyone is prepared. Ensure that the facilities that you require for the business meeting are available and ready to use. Presentations should be well prepared, comprehensive, clear, well written, and informative and should be presented in a formal, rational, professional manner – appealing always to the intellect of business people in Germany. The following sections deal with the various stages of a business meeting and examine the issues of cultural sensitivity in this area. Importance  of  Business  Meeting   Meetings are taken seriously in Germany and may go into considerable detail. Business meetings follow a formal procedure. German managers work from precise and detailed agendas, which are usually followed rigorously; moreover, meetings always aim for decisive outcomes and results, rather than providing a forum for open and general discussion. The formality of a meeting may make it difficult for an outsider to assess how things are going, but a lengthy examination of a proposal will indicate serious intent. In German business dealings, it is important to provide solid facts and examples to back up proposals, given the German preference for analytical thinking and rational explanations. Do not use exaggerated or indirect communication styles during business meetings with your German counterparts as this will be viewed with suspicion. German business culture has a well-defined and strictly observed hierarchy, with clear responsibilities and distinctions between roles and departments. In formal German business meetings, it is customary for the highest-ranking person to enter the room first. However, in more informal business situations this is less important. Contacts are vital to a business’s success in Germany. Use a bank, German representative or the “Industrie- und Handelskammer” (Chamber of Industry and Commerce) whenever possible. Business  Meeting  planning   When setting up a meeting with your German counterparts, there are a number of matters to consider in order to ensure the most advantageous outcome from your negotiations. Think about the following before your process begins: • Appointments in Germany are mandatory and meetings in German companies are generally scheduled well in advance. businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  19     • • • • • • • • • • It is advisable that you make appointments a few weeks beforehand by telephone or fax. Allow up to four weeks to make appointments if using the mail. Brief preliminary meetings may sometimes be arranged at short notice. Try to avoid business meetings in the months of July and August or around the times of national holidays The planning process is often very time consuming. However, once this is over, a project will move very quickly and deadlines are expected to be honoured. Letters should be addressed to the lead person in the functional area, including the person’s name as well as their proper business title. Rank is very important in German business. Never set up a meeting for a lower ranked company employee to meet with a higher ranked person. If you write to schedule an appointment, the letter should be written in German. Expeditious handling of correspondence is mandatory. Telephone calls and faxes should be returned promptly. Although German is the preferred business language, most upper level managers are quite capable of carrying on a conversation in English. Punctuality is taken extremely seriously. If you expect to be delayed, telephone immediately and offer an explanation. It is extremely rude to cancel a meeting at the last minute and it could jeopardise your business relationship. Meetings are generally formal and initial meetings are used for the parties to get to know each other. They allow your German colleagues to determine if you are trustworthy. Participants must arrive punctually and dress up rather than down for the occasion. As with most European countries, meetings etiquette in Germany relies on professionalism, good business sense and formality. Bearing the above in mind, together with a positive attitude will ensure good results. Negotiation  process   When entering into business negotiations with German business people, there are a number of important points that you should be aware of in order to ensure a positive outcome from negotiations. • • • • • • • • Germans are competitive, ambitious and hard bargainers. In German business, a person’s word and handshake are considered his/her bond. If a verbal agreement is made in a business meeting, it is generally considered binding. Business negotiations tend to be analytical and factual. A well-researched speech with lots of graphs, empirical arguments, and statistics is usually preferred. A direct, matter-of-fact approach will be most appreciated. Business is hierarchical. Decision-making takes place at the highest levels of the company i.e. top down. It is not appropriate to bypass an associate of equal ranking by consulting with his or her superior, even if negotiations take a long time. Deference is given to authority. Subordinates rarely contradict or criticise the boss publicly. Decision-making is often a slow and detailed process. Do not expect significant conclusions to be reached based on spontaneous or unstructured results. Every aspect of the deal you propose will be pored over by many executives. Do not anticipate being able to speed up this process. As such, decision making during negotiations is slower than in some other European countries. An impatient businessperson will be unlikely to garner the same respect as a patient, reasonably spoken individual. If Germans feel rushed to complete a business deal, they may perceive this as a lack of commitment and professionalism. You must be patient and not appear ruffled or irritated by the strict adherence to protocol. Germans are detail- oriented and want to understand every innuendo before coming to an agreement. businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  20     • • • • • • Germans have an aversion to divergent opinions, but will negotiate and debate an issue fervently. Avoid confrontational behaviour or high-pressure tactics. It can be counterproductive. Avoid contradictory statements, such as following a compliment with a complaint; the inconsistency may cause a German to reject your statements outright. Jokes, anecdotes, a “hard sell” approach (which may entail insulting a competitor), or spontaneous presentations are generally considered inappropriate. Slang language and colloquialisms should be kept to a minimum or better yet, not used at all. Decisions are often debated informally and are generally made before meetings with compliance rather than consensus expected in the meeting. Final decisions are translated into rigorous, comprehensive action steps that you can expect will be carried out to the letter. Once a decision is made, it will not be changed. Your attention to detail will not go unnoticed by your German counterparts and will highlight your genuine willingness and enthusiasm to do business with them.  Meeting  protocol   When greeting people in Germany, particularly in business meetings, it is imperative that you always use formality. The following are points of importance when greeting Germans: • • • • • • • • Germans are still quite formal and like their hierarchies. Therefore, titles and last names are commonly used when not knowing a person and in business relationships. A man should be addressed as Herr (Mr.) and woman with Frau (Mrs.). In business settings it is good to use the honorific plus the professional designation. In more casual situations where the last name is unknown, titles alone (Herr and Frau) can be used. Germans offer a firm, but brief, handshake as a greeting. The handshake is often accompanied by saying “Guten Tag” (Good Day). Sometimes “Hallo” (Hello) is used; in the South, people say “Grüss Gott.” It is customary for people to also shake hands upon departing from one another. In some German offices shaking hands is part of the daily ritual, so do not be surprised if a round of handshaking precedes a day’s work. When meeting a business contact for the first time exchange business cards. Although sincere smiles are welcomed, and people tend to be polite and hospitable to one another, physical and emotional expressions may be kept to a minimum upon initial introductions. Eye contact is generally expected during the course of the introduction and conversation. Germans are known for being direct, frank, and truthful about how they feel; superficial, small talk is rarely welcomed. During a conversation, visitors are often expected to express their opinions on topics such as the arts and international events; however, they should be discreet when political issues come up. When close friends greet each other, it is common to kiss both the left and right cheeks. However, this is considered inappropriate in a business setting. Germans are not always going to come up and introduce themselves to strangers, especially if they know that you don’t speak their language. Not all Germans speak English and even if they do they might be not comfortable using it. Even if you don’t know very much German, most of them will appreciate you learning their language. How  to  Run  a  Business  Meeting   The efficient administering of a meeting is vital to negotiations with German counterparts. It illustrates your competence, motivation and dedication to making a deal and also highlights businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  21     your professionalism. The following are points to consider when running a meeting in Germany: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • The primary purpose of a first meeting is to get to know one another and to evaluate the person, to gain trust, and check the chemistry. Germans usually discuss business after a few minutes of general discussion. Meetings adhere to strict agendas, including start and end times. Send company profiles, personal profiles, etc., to German colleagues before your visit to establish credibility. Arrive at meetings well prepared. Avoid hard-sell tactics or surprises. Written or spoken presentations should be specific, factual, technical and realistic. Make sure your printed material is available in both English and German. Reports, briefings and presentations should be backed up by facts, figures, tables and charts. Germans abhor hype and exaggeration. Be sure you can back up your claims with lots of data. Case studies and examples are highly regarded. Germans are not comfortable handling the unexpected. Plans are cautious with fall back positions, contingency plans, and comprehensive action steps – carried out to the letter. Maintain direct eye contact while speaking. Although English may be spoken, it is a good idea to hire an interpreter so as to avoid any misunderstandings. Remain silent if the floor has not been given to you or if you are not prepared to make an informed contribution. At the end of a meeting, some Germans signal their approval by rapping their knuckles on the table top. Follow  up  letter  after  meeting  with  client   Once a meeting has concluded with German counterparts, then normal post-meeting procedures should apply. Germans produce massive written communications to elaborate on and confirm discussions. Always prepare and distribute minutes, information etc. within 24 hours of the meeting. Quick action on this reinforces the importance of meeting with the Germans and also reduces errors of memory. Follow up on any delegated decisions. See that all members understand and carry out their actions and responsibilities to the best of their ability. Place unfinished business on the agenda for the next meeting. A number of days after the meeting, your German colleagues will appreciate a follow up phone call. The personal touch and effort is important in business practice in Germany. Contracts are strictly followed in Germany. Under German law, if an agreement is reached on the phone and one party shortly thereafter confirms the contents, as being their understanding in a confirmation letter, the other party has to object without undue delay or the contents of the confirmation letter will form the basis of the agreement. In cross-border transactions this only applies if the foreign partner writes the confirmation letter and the German partner does not object, unless the law in the foreign partner’s home country has a similar rule. Many German businesses put their general business conditions, in German, on the back of orders, invoices and so on. Under certain circumstances those business conditions can also become part of the agreement if not properly objected to. In these cases, the fact that the recipient was not even able to read those business conditions due to a lack of knowledge of businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  22     the German language is no defence. It is therefore advisable to always object to the other side’s general business conditions as a safeguard. As German businesspeople are very formal, socialising after meetings will not occur until firm working relationships have been established. While a degree of formality will continue to exist in the business relationship, an effort to build an understanding of the German language and culture will improve relationships significantly. Business  meals   In history, Germany has included territories and people from its neighbouring countries of France, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, and Russia. As such, the regional variances in German cuisine often reflect this. As such, there is no German food per se, but a range of German foods, which may exhibit certain similar qualities. The following are issues to remember when eating out in Germany: • • • Outdoor eating is very popular in Germany, and it is not unusual or indeed unacceptable to find someone’s dog laying underneath their table. In restaurants, service is generally included and an extra 5% would be regarded as a reasonable tip. Give the tip to the waiter or waitress with the money for the meal rather than leaving it on the table. With the influx of foreign workers after World War II, many foreign dishes have been adopted into German cuisine — Italian dishes like spaghetti and pizza have become a staple of the German cuisine. Turkish immigrants have had a considerable influence— Döner kebab is Germany’s favourite fast food. Chinese and Greek foods are widely available and popular. Indian, Thai and other Asian cuisines are also gaining popularity. Beer and wine are part of a normal dinner and alcoholic drinks are usually offered to guests. Schnapps is a popular drink at the end of meals. Not drinking, however, is completely accepted. Do not insist on alcoholic drinks if a person has rejected your initial offer therefore, and do not order for them. A German who rejects a drink is not just being shy or polite but does not want to drink. For some cultures it is uncommon to see teenagers order a beer at restaurants and pubs. Remember that the legal drinking age in Germany is 16 for beer and wine and 18 for spirits. Coffee is also very common, not only for breakfast, but also to accompany a piece of cake in the afternoon, and is very strong. Tea is more common in the Northwest. Attitudes to business meals Business entertaining usually takes place in restaurants. The Germans enjoy linking gastronomic pleasures with interesting conversation about potential business. Actual business, however, is not supposed to be conducted during lunch or dinner. Sharing a meal is intended to help establish a personal acquaintance, and is a time to enjoy good food, wine and discussion. Restaurant Etiquette There is an etiquette you are expected to follow, when dining out in Germany. The following highlights the most important elements of restaurant etiquette: businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  23     • • • • • Do not begin eating until the host starts or someone says “Guten Appetit” (have a nice meal). Do not rest your elbows on the table. Do not put your left hand in your lap when you eat. In fact both hands must be visible at all times. Indicate you have finished eating by laying your knife and fork parallel across the right side of your plate, with the fork over the knife. The most common toast with wine is “Zum Wohl!” and with beer is “Prost” (good health). Business  Meeting  tips   The following are some useful tips to remember when travelling to or working in Germany: • • • • • • • • • • • • Lower your voice a little and behave graciously and you will enjoy a warm response from the people of Germany. Germans value their privacy and personal space immensely. Do not ask personal questions related to occupation, salary, age, family or children even if you have a well-established friendship. Germans are more formal and punctual than most of the rest of the world. They have prescribed roles and seldom step out of line. A man or younger person should always walk to the left side of a lady. Traditional good manners call for the man to walk in front of a woman when entering a public place. This is a symbol of protection and of the man leading the woman. A man should open the door for a woman and allow her to walk into the building, at which time the woman will stop and wait for the man. The man should then proceed to lead the woman to her destination. If going into a restaurant, the man may relinquish his leadership role to the waiter. Always greet women first in Germany. Do not be offended if someone corrects your behaviour (i.e. taking jacket off in restaurant, parking in wrong spot, etc.). Policing each other is seen as a social duty. Compliment carefully and sparingly – it may embarrass rather than please. Do not lose your temper publicly. This is viewed as uncouth and a sign of weakness. Stand up when an older or higher ranked person enters the room to greet him/her. You should not shout or be too loud and don’t put your feet on furniture or chew gum in public. Traditionally, there has been little acceptance of women in high positions of responsibility and power in business. Women, especially foreign women, must establish their position and ability immediately in order to be taken seriously when conducting business successfully in Germany. businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •              |  24   Internship  and  placement     Work  experience   Germans have their first short placement experience during school as most complete a 2 to 4 week period of work which is obligatory between the 7th and 10th grade. However, especially when studying, placements are used to learn about practice. Depending on where and what you study, placements can be a compulsory part of your study course. Even though some students go abroad for an internship, the majority do their placement in Germany. It is not uncommon to complete more than one placement. To get a placement in Germany the process is similar to applying for a normal job, which means you need to have a CV and a letter of application. Today, most applications can be completed using the internet (website or e-mail). One aspect you should mention within your application is if you will still be an enrolled student during your internship. This is important for tax and social charges. The two most common ways for finding placement possibilities are private connections and internet websites. Larger companies in particular advertise their placement opportunities on their own sites or within placements portals (see links below). Your application should be handed in 3 to 5 months in advance if you are coming from a foreign country in order to still have time to arrange things like accommodation. In general you will get feedback on your application even if you don’t get the position. Internship  and  Placement  advice   There are many practical issues related to international placements that need to be taken care of either by the trainee or the host company. It is important to reserve enough time for all the arrangements and the necessary formalities. The training organisations, educational institutes and home and host organisations are able to help with these formalities. Social  security  and  European  health  insurance   There are some insurances that you are advised to take out when staying in Germany. It is a good idea to find out before your arrival if you are in need of insurance. If you are coming from an EU/EEA country, you might not be required to get accident and health insurance but being insured is still highly recommended. As a foreign student relevant insurances to have are health, accident and travel insurances. Safety   Germany is generally a very safe place with a low crime rate. You should feel safe when living here as well as when traveling around. However, street crime occurs, including businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  25     pickpocketing and theft from unattended vehicles especially in larger cities. It is therefore important to be careful of your bag or backpack in crowded public places. There is one standardized emergency number across Germany. It is free of charge and available 24 hours a day. Emergency phone numbers: • • • Police: 110 Fire: 112 Ambulance: 112 In an emergency you can also reach the police on this number. The police have a strong local presence in Germany and will arrive within minutes to provide assistance. The normal number used to call the police in Germany is 110 and it can be dialled free of charge from any public telephone. Do  I  need  a  visa?   Depending on the country you are coming from, you might need to get a Visa before you can work in Germany. Internship  and  placement  salary   An internship may be paid or unpaid and there is no general wage that you can expect. It is common that in placements for students some amount is paid which covers your living costs. However, this is by no means the case in all areas. If no indications are made on the offer itself, you should enquire within your letter of application. Often the amount will not be written down, but there should at least be an indication whether or not the placement is paid. Internship  and  placement  accommodation   Most of the time, doing a placement in Germany means finding your own accommodation. You might be able to find furnished rooms but there is no general information we can provide here; this will depend on the city in which you do your internship. Rent is normally paid on a monthly basis and a bond needs to be paid at the beginning of the tenancy. businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  26     Cost  of  Living     Usually, as a student you should be able to cover your living costs independently. Compared with other European countries Germany is not overly expensive. Compared to the Scandinavian countries, the cost of living could even be said to be low. However, as everywhere, the cost of living depends on what you do and where you live in Germany. The largest expense is usually the rent which can be around 250 to 350€ a month for a single room. Another 150 to 250€ should be budgeted for food. Money  and  Banking   Germany has the Euro as its currency. As in most countries, payments in Germany are made with cash or cash cards (EC cards). However, credit cards are not that common and you can only use them in certain places. If staying in Germany for a longer time, it is recommended to open a bank account. The most widespread type of account in Germany is the current account. Once you’ve opened a current account, you can apply for a credit card. To do this you need to have sufficient financial means, which is often proven in the form of regular incoming payments. Normally, you have a choice between Master Card and Visa. Today you can also find some internet banks where you can open your bank account online. Major Banks in Germany include: • • • • Commerzbank Deutsche Bank Dresdenerbank Landesbank Berlin Traveling  costs   Usually, students need to pay and organise their travel to their destination country and to the company itself. The infrastructure in Germany is generally good and most businesses will be reachable using public transportation. Work-­‐life  Balance     The issues around finding the balance between family life, private life and work are gaining increased attention in political and business circles in Europe and Germany. A key issue for many workers is flexible working time in order to have a work-life balance. Negotiating a work/life balance can help enable parents (both men and women) to reconcile their work with their family lives and women in particular to participate in the labour market. Finding the right work-life balance can allow workers to take leave from work so that they businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  27     can participate in education or training or take up an interest, hobby or leisure pursuit. This may mean that employees can reorganise their working lives and hours around shorter days, weeks, months or years. German families tend to be small with only one or two children. The men are still quite often considered to be the head of the household, even though both the wife and husband work. At the turn of the century few employees in Germany were given holidays. In 1902, the metal and brewing industries gave three days annual leave to their workers. It was not until 1974 that the old Federal Republic introduced the statutory minimum holiday of 18 working days which has now risen to a minimum of 24 days. Today most collective wage agreements provide for holidays of six weeks or more and most employers give holiday pay. National  holidays   Germany has quite generous holidays in comparison to other European countries. There are more public holidays in Germany than in any other European country. On these days, banks and most shops are closed, including supermarkets. However, many restaurants remain open. Public transportation and other services are also available. Many shops and businesses are also closed on Carnival Rose Monday (Cologne and Rhine region), Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve although these are not official holidays. Overview of legal holidays: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • New Year 01.01 Epiphany 06.01 (celebrated in BW, BY, ST) Good Friday around March/April Easter Monday around March/April Labour Day 01.05 Ascension May Whit Monday May Corpus Christi May/June (celebrated in BW, BY, HE, NW, RP, SL) Assumption Day 15.08 (celebrated in BY, SL) Day of German Unity 03.10 Reformation Day 31.10 (celebrated in BB, MV, SN, ST, TH) All Saints’ Day 01.11 (celebrated in BW, BY, NW, RP, SL Penance Day 21.11 (celebrated in SN) Christmas 25.12 St. Stephen’s Day 26.12 (Those States where the public holiday applies are shown in brackets; if nothing is indicated the holiday applies to all of Germany.) Working  hours   Opening hours In Germany, businesses and shops are not legally allowed to stay open as long as they please and there are strict regulations concerning opening and closing hours. The German federal law “Ladenschlussgesetz” (Shop Closing Law) together with individual regulations in businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  28     different States controls opening hours. Thus supermarkets for example close at 22.00 at the latest and open before 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. On Sundays almost everything is closed with the exception of bakeries and petrol stations. Working times The German Working Time Regulations (“Arbeitszeitgesetz”) regulate working hours on a legal basis. They are based on the European regulation 93/104/EG. In addition, most industries have collective agreements that regulate working hours and holidays. However, it can be said, that a working week of more than 48 hours on average during a 6 month period must not be exceeded. Furthermore, Sundays and national holidays are non-working days. Working  culture   Germans see themselves as modern, liberal and cultured, and working practices are formal and professional. The following outlines the working practices that you should be familiar with before investing in Germany: • • • • • • • • • • • Though long-term relationships are considered very important, friendships are usually not developed too quickly. It may take some time before personal names are used between nonfamilial parties. German business culture has a well-defined and strictly observed hierarchy, with clear responsibilities and distinctions between roles and departments. Professional rank and status in Germany is generally based on an individual’s achievement and expertise in a given field. Academic titles and backgrounds are important, conveying an individual’s expertise and thorough knowledge of their particular area of work. An important aspect is Germany’s work ethic. Employees define themselves as part of the corporation they are working for and quickly identify themselves with its product and/ or services. Rank is very important in business. Never set up a meeting for a lower ranked company employee to meet with a higher ranked person. Notwithstanding what has been said previously, today over half of all university graduates are women. Female students are well represented in the professions; they lead in some fields such as medicine and law. The new availability of qualified female graduates is likely to bring great changes in the German workplace of the future. Pay and power inequalities are still present however. Male employees tend to receive higher wages than their female counterparts. Jobs considered as being “women’s work” typically pay less than those deemed “men’s work”. In more traditional companies, it is still generally true that everything is run by committees, things are discussed in great length and risk taking is not as common as in other countries. There is one philosophy for almost everybody in German business: if someone says he is going to do something, he will do it. The same is expected of others as well. Never make a promise that you cannot keep or offer something that you cannot deliver. Germans dislike and do not trust unreliable people. There is no legislated or administratively determined minimum wage. Collective bargaining agreements set minimum pay rates and are enforceable by law for an estimated 80 to 90 per cent of all wage and salary earners Federal regulations limit the working week to a maximum of 48 hours, but collective bargaining agreements may supersede these. Contracts that directly or indirectly affect 80% of the working population regulate the number of hours of work per week. businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  29     • • The average working week is around 40 hours; rest periods for lunch are accepted practice. Provisions for overtime, holidays, and weekend pay vary depending upon the applicable collective bargaining agreement. An extensive set of laws and regulations govern occupational health and safety. A comprehensive system of worker insurance enforces safety requirements in the workplace. It is important that these issues are examined and understood before setting up a company and employing a workforce in Germany. These issues differ all over Europe but legal guidelines are set by the European Commission. Health  insurance   Germany’s health care system provides its residents with nearly universal access to comprehensive high-quality medical care and a choice of physicians. Over 90% of the population receives health care through the country’s statutory health care insurance programme. Membership of this programme is compulsory for all those earning less than a periodically revised income ceiling. Nearly all of the remainder of the population receives health care via private for-profit insurance companies. Everyone uses the same health care facilities. Although the federal government has an important role in specifying national health care policies and although the “Länder” control the hospital sector, the country’s health care system is not government run. Instead, it is administered by national and regional selfgoverning associations of payers and providers. These associations play key roles in specifying the details of national health policy and negotiate with one another about financing and providing health care. In addition, instead of being paid for by taxes, the system is financed mostly by health care insurance premiums, both compulsory and voluntary. businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  30     Social  Media  Guide     Private  individuals   More than 75% of all Germans (over 14 years of age) use the internet in some way. Of these, more than 75% are registered on at least one social network and spend around a quarter of all their online-time on these networks. For most people, especially the younger generation, the Internet today is synonymous with social networks with over 90% of 14 to 29 year olds registered on them. The most popular networks listed according to their number of users are: • • • • • • • • Facebook (more than 20 million German users in July 2012) Google+ Xing Wer-kennt-wen MeinVZ/StudyVZ LinkedIn MySpace Lokalisten The reasons for using social networks range from communication with friends and the possibility of contacting old and potential new friends, to an interest in what others are doing, and to be reminded about birthdays. Other social media used by Germans include Twitter, YouTube, Wikis and Blogs. The following picture shows the social media prism 4.0 for Germany and gives an idea of how broad the field of social media is. businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •              |  31   SMEs   The use of social media in German businesses is rising. Most companies are beginning to understand its relevance. In particular, the awareness that negative customer feedback on the Internet can harm a business is a driver shaping the use of social media. Trip Advisor is an example of a ratings website that you may come across when looking for a hotel or restaurant. If negative feedback is left about your business on a site such as this and then not monitored and/or commented upon, the consequences for your business’s reputation can be severe. A recent study undertaken by BITKOM in 2012 indicates that nearly half of all businesses in Germany use some kind of social media and another 15% are planning to use it. A difference in uptake between small and medium sized businesses and large enterprises is not discernible. However, there are differences in the distribution between sectors. While more than half of businesses operating in the retail sector use social media, only 1/3 use it in manufacturing and construction. This may be explained by the closeness of the service sector to the consumer/customer. businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  32     The most influential driver for the use of social media can be seen in areas where external business communication is important, such as marketing, public relations or advertising. The goals of SM usage can be very different: • • • • • • • • Increased awareness of the company/trade mark Acquisition of new customers Building relationships with customers Search engine optimization Control of company image Market research and monitoring Acquisition of new employees Cooperation with customers in order to expand the product portfolio These different goals are achieved through the use of a broad range of diverse forms of social media for different purposes. For example, 86% of all companies who use social media, (social networks such as Facebook and Xing are used the most), do so mainly as a means of representing the business. Video platforms such as YouTube are used by fewer than 30% and Wikis by fewer than 15% of companies. Other applications that are used include corporate blogs and micro-Blogs such as Twitter. In Germany, Facebook, Xing, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs, LinkedIn and Google + (listed according to frequency used) are the social media tools most commonly used by businesses. The budget that will be invested in social media campaigns in the future is estimated to rise. Even though most companies are not planning to invest in employee training on how to use SM, more and more have specialized staff working solely on the social media profile of the company. However, this greatly differs depending on the number of employees. While most large enterprises have assigned employees who look after SM, fewer than 50% of SMEs have such employees. If they have them, the number is often limited to one or two people. Shortage of resources such as staff and time are the challenges most mentioned when using social media. In addition, the following issues can be identified as the problem issues that arise through SM use: • • • • • Difficulties in measuring objectives Identifying effective monitoring tools Identification of where to be active and with whom to connect Coordination of SM activities Limited understanding of how SM can support the business However, these are not the arguments companies use when explaining why they don’t use social media at all. The two most frequently cited issues are that they will not reach their target customers and the legal uncertainties associated with SM use. 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. businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  33     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) • • 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) • • businessculture.org     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. Content  Germany  
    •            |  34     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) • • 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) businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  35     • • 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) • • • 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) businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  36     • • 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 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 businessculture.org     Content  Germany  
    •            |  37     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  Germany  
    •              |  38   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  Germany