Croatian Culture

Business Culture

Meetings

  • Meeting structures are not very rigid. While there may be an agenda, it serves more as a guideline for the discussion.
  • The initial meeting is generally scheduled as introductions. It may be between yourself and a middle manager rather than the actual decision maker.
  • A firm handshake and direct eye contact are advisable. A loose handshake and poor or no eye contact may make your Croatian counterpart suspicious.
  • Typically, surnames are used until one is invited to use first names.
  • Meetings can be quite lengthy and sometimes people will go on tangents.
  • Small talk prior to a meeting is common and becomes increasingly important as the relationship develops. Jumping straight into business may be interpreted as rude.
  • There may be some delay in beginning a meeting or negotiation. Refreshments are common as well as digressions.
  • When in a meeting, remain standing until invited to sit down. Your Croatian counterpart may have reserved a seat especially for you.
  • Decisions are often made without consultation and managers are not always strictly required to provide an explanation as to why a decision was reached.


Considerations

  • In a business context, Croatians take punctuality seriously and expect people to be on time.
  • While Croatians often use humour in conversations (see ‘Verbal’ in Communication), they generally avoid or limit humour in a business setting.
  • Religion is rarely discussed in the workplace, but many businesses close for Roman Catholic holidays.
  • Nepotism is a common practice in Croatia. Often, family members are chosen over people with expertise or knowledge on a matter. However, the practice is not always considered acceptable.
  • While Croatians like to know their business partners well, the first stage of the business relationship tends to be formal.
  • Business cards tend to be exchanged without a formal ritual. To show respect, practise business card etiquette that is typical in Australian business dealings.
  • Most businesses do not expect gifts to be offered at the first meeting. If gifts are exchanged, expensive gifts are not recommended as it may be interpreted as bribery. Rather, small presents such as a book or a token gift representing your home country are acceptable.
  • Avoid openly criticising your Croatian counterpart or their company. Croatians tend to be very proud and can be easily offended. Criticisms should be phrased as suggestions rather than complaints.
  • It is best to avoid discussions concerning the political and military history of the former Yugoslavia.
  • On the Corruption Perception Index (2017), Croatia ranks as 57th out of 180 countries, receiving a score of 49 (on a scale from 0 to 100). This suggests that the country’s public sector has a moderate amount of corruption.
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