Portugal – ready for sustainability
Portugal is a republic and is the westernmost country of mainland Europe, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and by Spain to the north and east, with a population of 10.5 million.
Corporate Social Responsibility in Portugal is mainly focused on fighting exclusion and poverty but there is little public debate on it. Environmental issues are soil erosion, air and water pollution. Sustainable products and consumption are still unknown to Portuguese society however, recently, companies have started to consider sustainability as representing a possible competitive advantage.
In general, Portuguese companies are keen to discuss potential business with foreign counterparts, but it is not always easy to reach the people with the appropriate status for negotiating business. Portuguese business is hierarchical and the highest ranking person makes the decisions.
Initial correspondence with a new Portuguese counterpart should be written in Portuguese. Ideally, appointments should be made about two weeks in advance and confirmed a few days before. Avoid the vacation period in August and the week between Christmas and New Year. The best time of day for a business meeting is 11.00am or 4.00pm.
Expect to invest a significant amount of time developing the business relationship, with face-to-face meetings much preferred over any other communication. Negotiations can be lengthy and time-consuming and nothing should be taken for granted until the final contract has been signed.
It is normal to give a gift to customers and partners and to present it unwrapped at the beginning of a business encounter. Suitable gifts are chocolates or spirits. If you give flowers, avoid red flowers as red is the symbol of revolution.
Share any Portuguese business encounters you have experienced.
Sources: Wikipedia and Business Culture www.businessculture.org