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Doing Business in Central and Eastern Europe
Despite the numerous business opportunities related to the opening of the Central and
Eastern European countries since 1989, doing business in this region poses considerable
challenges and risks for Western companies. How can we meet these challenges and
minimize these risks while maximizing their professional exchanges with citizens of CEE?
What are the key information and practical advice that will help Western employees build
and maintain productive relationships?
The paper begins with a reference to the development of interculturalism in post-World War
II Europe and how it was taken on board and applied by multinationals.
A key factor in understanding the CEE region is the impact of Soviet rule from 1945 to 1989
on interpersonal and social relations. From a business perspective the legacy of this period
profoundly affects how individuals and organizations behave in terms of trust, risk and
attitudes to change.
The Western model of organizational culture and behaviour cannot be transposed wholesale
to CEE since the principles and mechanics of hierarchy, decisionmaking, contracts and
personal responsibility differ considerably.
The transition from Communism to Capitalism has resulted in a number of excesses that are
visible in consumer behaviour. The persistence of nepotism and corruption, the absence of
strong regulation and an inadequate legal environment exacerbate the risks of doing
The paper concludes with practical advice relating to communication and negotiation in CEE.