Portugal Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public Holidays

Introduction

Portuguese business culture is focused on building relationships. In the hierarchical structure of many Portuguese companies and organizations, age and seniority play an important role, almost all relevant decisions are made by the management of the organization and behind closed doors. The decision-making process usually requires a series of negotiations and multiple stages of consideration, the final result cannot be expected immediately. Compared to some countries in Northern Europe, for example, the tolerance for change and unconventional solutions in Portugal appears to be more limited. People generally prefer to work with someone they know well, respect and trust. Face-to-face meetings are also preferred over conference calls and emails. Unlike their neighbors on the Iberian Peninsula, the Spanish, the Portuguese gesture less.

Addressing

The first contact and expression of interest in the meeting should ideally be made at least two weeks in advance, it is also advisable to reconfirm the meeting a few days before it takes place. It is not advisable to plan meetings during the month of August, as this is the peak holiday season in Portugal. The days before Christmas and New Year are similarly impractical when it comes to scheduling a meeting. Usual working hours are from Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with a longer lunch break lasting 1 to 2 hours, which can be used for negotiations.

Business meeting

In order to arrange a business meeting, an initial telephone contact with sufficient time in advance appears to be suitable, on the basis of which the details of the meeting are further negotiated via e-mail. The first meetings are rather formal and usually take place at the headquarters of one of the parties. On the side of the Portuguese partner, usually more people participate in the negotiations. There is mutual introduction and exchange of contact information, including business cards. Subsequent meetings can also take place in a less formal environment (restaurants, cafes, etc.). It is possible to give a partner a smaller gift with a link to the company or the Czech Republic. Received gifts are unwrapped, it is appropriate to express pleasure. When it comes to punctuality, the attitude of the Portuguese is reasonably relaxed. Although it might seem that Portuguese partners do not care much about punctuality in a business or social context,

It usually takes some time to establish a business relationship. The Portuguese have a certain resistance to change, so entering a competitive market can be somewhat challenging. However, once the initial barriers are overcome, the Portuguese tend to be reliable and long-term business partners. Although the Catholic faith is dominant in Portugal, the religious question is not reflected in business relations.

The Portuguese prefer clear and concise communication. Therefore, the representative of the Czech company should always be well prepared for the meeting. At the beginning, a brief introduction of the company and its references and achievements is expected. It is also appropriate to mention the positive economic aspects of the Czech Republic, as Portuguese partners do not always have a good overview of them. During negotiations, it is advisable to use a clear argumentation, it is not necessary to go into unnecessary details. At the end of the meeting, it is appropriate to summarize the main elements and positives of our offer.

When it comes to business negotiations, the Portuguese are usually reserved and do not show much emotion. A good way to “break the ice” is to mention important figures or events in Portugal.

Some differences can be observed between entrepreneurs who come from the two largest Portuguese metropolitan areas. While entrepreneurs from northern Porto and the surrounding area value more personal contact and tend to be friendlier, more open and emotional, entrepreneurs from the capital Lisbon area profess more of a “corporate culture” and prefer professional contact rather than a closer personal one.

In the next stages of business relations, when negotiations often take place in restaurants, good wine is an integral part of the table.

In the working environment, Portuguese people usually value elegance and fashion, and they also pay attention to brands and accessories. They see clothes as a reflection of social status and success.

As for the composition of the negotiation team, the business delegation should ideally include a senior employee, preferably a director, as well as a technical employee who will be able to present the offered product in more detail and from a technical point of view. It does not matter the age or gender composition of the team.

In Portugal, it is not a common practice to invite business partners to your home, and partners are not expected to do so either. Most meetings take place in meeting rooms or offices, or in less formal environments such as restaurants or cafes. However, if we are invited to a colleague’s or business partner’s home for dinner, it is appropriate to bring the host, or his wife, a gift, which can be wine, flowers, chocolate, cut glass, typical ceramics, etc.

Communication

The need for interpretation
Portuguese people, especially the younger generations, usually have a good command of the English language, so in most cases it should not be necessary to use the services of an interpreter. When it comes to corporate and promotional materials, the English language is not a problem. However, if the Czech partner has the opportunity to present materials in Portuguese, it will certainly make a good impression on the partners. In this context, however, it is worth paying attention to the differences between Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese. It is a fairly common misconception that it would be possible to get by with Spanish in Portugal, the use of which could, on the contrary, be perceived negatively. Visit Aparentingblog for more information about Portugal culture and traditions.

Language skills
English is usually mastered especially by the younger generations of Portuguese entrepreneurs. As a rule, older generations speak French more often. However, in the case of very small companies or entrepreneurs in advanced senior age, there may be a problem with the language of mutual communication, and therefore it is advisable to clarify this question in advance.

Communication taboo
Political, religious or other controversial topics should be avoided during business negotiations.

Forms of communication
Although the Portuguese generally prefer, at least in the initial phase, personal contact, in the further course of communication it is not a problem to solve routine matters by e-mail or telephone.

Recommendation

First of all, it is advisable to carefully consider whether the relatively small Portuguese market with its specificities is a suitable target for the application of our product or service. The Portuguese economy is undergoing a transformation, characterized on the one hand by efforts to modernize and streamline basic infrastructure, but also by openness to innovative and modern solutions that are in line with the times. Current buzzwords are renewable energy sources, digitization, smart cities, etc.

In this context, it is always good to be aware of Portugal’s strong economic ties with Spain, with which the country shares a single land border. It often happens that a sales representative or distributor of a foreign company in Spain also covers the Portuguese market. On the other hand, for historical reasons, Portugal traditionally has strong economic ties to its former colonies, especially in Africa, which also applies to knowledge of the business culture there.

To Portuguese business partners, it is advisable to present the previous references of our company, or of the offered product or service, preferably from developed markets.

Although this is not a necessary condition in the EU common market, in the reality of Portugal it is most appropriate to have a local distributor who already has a network of business partners and perfect knowledge of the market for a long-term presence on the market. If you are interested in obtaining a contract in the state sector, a quality domestic partner is a de facto necessity.

In the interest of a long-term successful operation on the Portuguese market, it is advisable to build good personal relationships in a non-violent way after establishing a professional contact.

Public Holidays

The following public holidays are in Portugal:

  • New Year – January 1
  • Good Friday – movable holiday (March-April)
  • Freedom Day – April 25 (anniversary of the so-called Carnation Revolution 1974)
  • Labor Day – May 1
  • Feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord (Corpus Cristi) – movable feast (60 days after Easter)
  • Day of Portugal, Camões and the Portuguese Communities – 10 June
  • Assumption of the Virgin Mary – August 15
  • Republic Day – October 5
  • All Saints’ Day – November 1
  • Independence Day – December 1
  • Immaculate Conception – December 8
  • Christmas – December 25

In addition to national holidays in Portugal, there are also regional and city holidays (e.g. Lisbon – 12 June, St. Anthony, Porto – 24 June, St. John).

Portugal Culture of Business