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Business Culture

Russia - Business Culture


Russian business is generally transactional in nature: there is no need to spend a long time building up personal relationships, but you will still need to demonstrate your personal sincerity and capabilities. Organizations are hierarchical, with decision-making concentrated at a senior level, but work practices are based on teamwork.

You should make appointments in advance and confirm them by fax or email. Normal business hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Fridays.

Many Russians speak English, but you should arrange for an interpreter if necessary, and have your materials and business card translated.

You should be punctual for your meeting, but be prepared for the Russians to arrive late or reschedule. Normal business attire is conservative, consisting of dark business suits. The usual form of greeting is a very firm handshake; while close contacts or friends often embrace. Business cards are always exchanged.

Titles are important in Russia: people should be addressed by their official or professional titles if known, or as "gaspodin" (Mr) or "gaspazhah" ("Mrs." or "Miss") with their family name.

Meetings begin with small talk, including discussion about family or other personal matters. Initial meetings are often just for the purpose of getting to know you and your company. Negotiations are frequently conducted over dinner or drinks but will be finalized in a formal meeting.

Presentations should be thorough, with full background information and lots of data and supporting evidence. Avoid high-tech or flashy presentations or hard-sell tactics. The most important thing is to convey your capability and expertise.

Russians are tough negotiators, and will aim to secure concessions. Discussions are lively and negotiation styles are often theatrical, including emotional outbursts. You should remain courteous and firm, and be sure to ask for reciprocal favours if you make concessions. Avoid praising an individual, as this will be viewed with suspicion.

Russians place great importance on putting everything in writing, and you are likely to be asked to sign a record of the meeting, as well as any formal contracts or agreements. It is not unusual for Russians to renegotiate a contract.

It is normal practice to give gifts in Russian business; suitable gifts include a quality souvenir from your home country or something with your company logo.


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