DOING BUSINESS ABROAD – ITALY Ciucean Cristina Maria MIG, I
Table of contents:• Introduction• Business Environment• Italian Management Style• Italian Society and Culture• Etiquette, Customs and Protocol in Italy• Conclusion
Italian Facts and Statistics• Location: Southern Europe, bordering Austria, France, Vatican City, San Marino, Slovenia, Switzerland• Capital: Rome• Population: 60.6 million• Ethnic groups: Italian (includes small clusters of German-, French-, and Slovene- Italians in the north and Albanian-Italians and Greek-Italians in the south)• Religions: predominately Roman Catholic• Language: Italian (official)• Year of EU entry: Founding member• Government type: republic, since June 2, 1946.• Currency: €Italy’s role in the Construction of a United Europe Italy has been one of the leading actors in the long and not always easy undertaking of building a Europe without borders and trade barriers. Italy hosted many of the key events in the community’s history, such as the signing of the EEC (European Economic Community) and Euratom Treaties in Rome in 1957.
Business EnvironmentBackground to Business in Italy and Business Structures• Italians are famous for their sense of family• The Italian economy has a greater percentage of small and medium sized, family-run businesses than any other European state.Italian Management StyleBeing a Manager in Italy• Family-owned companies• It is commonplace to find relatives working in the same company, often in the same department.• Although business is taken quite seriously, the family and the good of the group are often more important than following the rules.
The Role of a Manager• In Italy, as in other hierarchical societies, managers may take a somewhat paternalistic attitude to their employees.Working environment - Work ethic in Italy• Italians work to live, and not vice versa.• Private sector workers work more hours per day than officers, who devote their entire career improving the art of working as little as possible.• The ownership of a business is very appreciated in Italy.
Italian Society and CultureItalian Family Values• The family = centre of the social structure and provides a stabilizing influence for its members.• North - generally only the nuclear family lives together;• South - the extended family often resides together in one house.Italian attitude towards other cultures• Regional attitudes• “The French do not like us, but neither do we”• Same with the Germans" We tolerate each other”Italian Style• Fashions and fashion design are trademarks of Italy• Good clothes are a signature of success• Bella Figura” describes the ability to present oneself well and behave with an air of demure and formality and is a key element in Italian business culture
Etiquette, Customs and Protocol in ItalyDoing Business - Relationships and Communication• Official language- Italian, English is spoken by many businesspeople.• The Vatican and its policies, World War II, the Mafia are to be avoided.• Good topics: Italian culture, art, food, wine, family, and films.• You will always be introduced to older people and women first.• In introductions and departures, shake hands individually with everyone in a group.• Italians wont hesitate to greet people they know with a warm embrace.• Italians prefer face-to-face contact. Eye contact should be direct.• Italians are intuitive. Therefore, make an effort to ensure that your Italians colleagues like and trust you.• It is rare to see Italian business people eating as they walk along the streets.• Hospitality plays a key role in Italian business culture, and usually involves a restaurant dinner. Refusing an invitation of any kind is considered an insult.
• Business is often conducted over a long lunch, which can last up to three hours.• Familiarity is very important in Italian business culture.• Italians are extremely expressive communicators.Doing Business – Etiquette• "Time is money"• Foreign businessmen/women should be punctual for business appointments, although the Italian executive may not be.• Handshakes are common for both sexes, and may include grasping the arm with the other hand.• When interacting, little personal space is left between people .• Do not expect quick decisions or actions to take place, as the Italian bureaucracy and legal systems are rather slow.• When doing business in Italy, dress to impress. Italians like to make an impression with their clothes. What you wear speaks volumes about the kind of person you are.
Doing Business - Punctuality• Italians are usually relaxed around issues relating to time. Being late with a good reason will not have any negative consequences.Doing Business - Meeting and Negotiations• Italians prefer to do business with someone they know and trust.• Appointments are mandatory. To arrange a meeting write, in Italian, first. Follow this up with a phone call, fax or e-mail. The best time for meetings is between 10 - 11 a.m. and after 3 p.m. Avoid August as most businesses will run on skeleton staff due to holidays.• The usual handshake with direct eye contact and a smile suffices between strangers.• Italians are guided by first impressions.• Negotiations can be slow. Demonstrating a sense of urgency is seen as a sign of weakness. At the beginning of a meeting avoid business and concentrate on some small talk.
• Have all your printed material available in both English and Italian.• Decisions are not reached in meetings. Meetings are meant for a free flow of ideas and to let everyone have their say.• Hierarchy is the cornerstone of Italian business. Italians respect power and age.Doing Business - Business Entertaining• Invitations to lunch and dinner are to be expected when doing business there.• Dining does have certain protocol in Italy. Major etiquette tips are that the most honoured guest sits at the middle of the table or on the right of the host; the host always pays; pass dishes to the left; keep your knife in the right hand and fork in the left and do not answer phone calls at the table.
Gift Giving Etiquette• When invited to someones home, bring gift-wrapped chocolates, pastries, or flowers.• If you bring wine as a gift, make sure that it is of excellent vintage, as many Italians are wine connoisseurs.• Gifts are usually opened when received.Dining EtiquetteIf invited to an Italian house:• If an invitation says the dress is informal, wear stylish clothes that are still rather formal, (jacket and tie for men and an elegant dress for women.)• Punctuality is not mandatory. You may arrive between 15 minutes late if invited to dinner and up to 30 minutes late if invited to a party.• If you are invited to a meal, bring gift-wrapped such as wine or chocolates.• If you are invited for dinner and want to send flowers, have them delivered that day.
Italian Dress Code• Dressing well is a priority in Italy.• Fashions and fashion design are trademarks of Italy.• Men should wear fashionable, high quality suits.• Shirts may be colored or pin-striped, and they should be paired with an Italian designer tie.• Women dress in quiet, expensive elegance.• Quality accessories such as shoes and leather goods will make a good impression with the Italians.Business Cards• Business cards are exchanged after the formal introduction.• To demonstrate proper respect for the other person, look closely at their business card before putting it in your card holder.• It is a good idea to have one side of your business card translated into Italian.• Italians often have two different business cards, one with business credentials for formal relationships, and another with personal information for less formal relationships.
Conclusion - Dos and Donts• DO maintain eye contact while talking.• DO shake hands with everyone when being introduced during a business or social meeting. Men should wait for women to extend their hand first.• DO ensure that you knock before entering an office in Italy and always close the door behind you.• DONT appear impatient or rush your Italian colleagues in their business negotiations. Italians may see this as a sign of weakness.• DONT give a business gift until you receive one first.• DONT be surprised if during business meetings your Italian colleagues speak simultaneously or interrupt one another.