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The Romanian business culture

A strong hierarchical system exists, wherein businesses follow a top-down model of delegation. Decisions are rarely questioned or challenged by those of lower rank

Romania business culture

Romania has a long, challenging and interesting history. Its language originates from Latin. Romanians have often been labelled as one of the greatest survivors in history. Modest attitudes and behaviours coupled with orthodox Christian beliefs reflect their simple-minded and down to earth mentality that has been shaped by years of hardship. Romanians may appear abrupt or unreceptive initially; however, they are considered to be among the friendliest and hospitable people in Europe. Romanians are large-hearted with a unique sense of humour and a strong cultural heritage.

 

Work culture

Romanian business culture is quite formal and hierarchical; it places great importance on courtesy and respect for older or more senior people.

Summertime is not good for business as many companies wind down their operations then. Easter and Christmas are also difficult as companies and shops close for an indefinite period. Normal business hours are 0900–1700.

 

Business structure

A strong hierarchical system exists, wherein businesses follow a top-down model of delegation. Decisions are rarely questioned or challenged by those of lower rank. Most business dealings are very formal. Senior members of the group are accorded the most respect and privileges. Responsibilities and positions are clearly defined. Those with authority command a higher level of respect. This is often reflected in the decision making process and use of titles and formal greetings.

 

Business meetings and negotiations

Meetings are usually quite formal, and often dominated by the senior decision maker. There is little small talk or informal discussion. One should not ask for personal information as Romanians value privacy.

Meeting schedules are not rigid in the country. An agenda may exist; however, it serves as a guideline for discussion and can act as a springboard to other business. Therefore, one should remain flexible in his/her approach.

Romanians can be tough negotiators. They are concerned about being taken advantage of by foreigners. Decisions are only made by the most senior members of the Romanian party. Therefore, it is recommended to save concessions and the like until speaking or meeting directly with them.

Contracts are considered to be statements of intent rather than binding agreements. Note that decisions can be reversed. Nothing is concrete when doing business in Romania.

 

Communications

A firm handshake with good eye contact is the normal business greeting. However, one should only shake hands with a woman if she initiates the gesture. Titles are important in Romania. One should always address people by their professional or academic title with their name, or "domnul" (Mr) or "doamna" (Mrs or Ms), along with their family name. It is unusual to use first names while conducting business in Romania.

Communication styles are direct and frank, but also sensitive and courteous, with care being taken not to offend people. While straightforwardness is valued in Romania, delivering information in a sensitive way is also given importance. It is advisable to hire an interpreter while dealing with traditionally managed firms; however, a large number of English speakers work in newer organisations with multiple geographic presence.

 

Social

Romanians prefer to conduct business with people who are down to earth and do not brag about their accomplishments or financial achievements. They pride themselves in using proper etiquettes in all situations and expect others to do the same.

Romanians are very friendly; however, business is somewhat reserved and formal initially. The country still places importance on good manners and demeanour. Therefore, one should endeavour to present himself/herself professionally at all times. Although the country boasts a relationship-driven culture, Romanians give equal importance to privacy. It takes a while to earn trust, but once gained, it opens many doors. Romanians are generally shy and quiet initially.

 

Gifts

Gifting is not a normal practice in Romanian business culture. However, one should carry a small bouquet of flowers, or chocolates, or liquor as gift when invited to a Romanian home.

 

Business environment

The country is still governed by a great deal of bureaucracy. Personal relationships are crucial if one wishes to cut through the red tape. Many businesses involve overlapping local bureaucracies. This makes conducting business a time consuming process, which requires perseverance.

 

Sources: UKTI, Kwintessential, Communicaid, ExecutivePlanet, GlobalNegotiator, WorldTravelGuide

 

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