Serbian Culture

Business Culture

Meetings

  • People usually greet by shaking hands, maintaining eye contact and introducing themselves when entering the room. This occurs regardless of gender.
  • When addressing superiors, one refers to them by their professional title. For example, “Director, would you please take a seat?” All other colleagues are addressed by their first name.
  • Decisions are often made without consultation, and managers are not always strictly required to provide an explanation as to why a decision was reached.
  • Many Serbian businesses believe that developing a business relationship is important and may prioritise this over business matters. As a result, several meetings may occur before business details are confirmed. 
  • It is not uncommon for Serbians to raise their voice during negotiations.


Relationship Oriented

Serbians place a high value on building a relationship. This is often prioritised over negotiations. During breaks, many will drink coffee and engage in light conversations. For example, Serbians will inquire about one’s family and health and expect the same level of interest in their personal life. Once a relationship is built, Serbians tend to be reliable. They will also expect that you will be reliable by being willing to help them or complete a favour for them if you are able to. For example, they may ask you to consider a friend of theirs for employment. However, if you are unable to do something or think it may be inappropriate, explain your reasons. Although this may strain your relationship, ensure that there are no misunderstandings between yourself and your Serbian counterpart. 


Considerations

  • Getting things done faster depends largely on personal connections one has since Serbia is significantly . Thus, it is a good idea to allow more time for deadlines.
  • It is inappropriate to book a Serbian-speaking Croatian or Bosnian interpreter for a Serbian client as one cannot be sure of their Serbian counterpart’s feelings towards Croats and Bosniaks.
  • Many Serbian businesses prefer introductions through a third party rather than being ‘cold-called’. 
  • is a common and accepted practice in Serbia. Often, family members are chosen over people with expertise or knowledge on a matter.
  • Business cards are common and often exchanged without any formal ritual.
  • On the (2017), Serbia ranks 77th out of 180 countries, receiving a score of 41 (on a scale from 0 to 100). This perception suggests that the country’s public sector is moderately clean from corruption.

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