Eastern Europe is no more a block than Western Europe when it comes to the
way managers think,
to research by an AngloDutch
Questionnaires completed by 8,000 managers from 18 European countries -
including 400 each from Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and East Germany - show
that 40 years of Communism has
overridden national cultures.
Bulgarians are just as
unlikely to help
the boss paint his house at the weekend as their UK, Dutch or West German
a third of Hungarians, a similar proportion to that in Spain or Italy,
would do so. "This should explode the
an Eastern bloc - all countries are different," says David Wheatley of
British-based Employment Conditions abroad, which has developed the
original research of Fons Trompenaars of the Centre for International
Business Studies in the Netherlands.
believes the research, which he plans to publish soon, should help
West European companies employing and doing business with East Europeans.
differences in attitude could be
to the way companies judge potential
business partners and
as well as the ability to win business. Unless you recognise and
account the differences, business relationships
or even fail, he says.
A Pole will call you
during a meeting without meaning to be personal. Criticism of an idea does
not extend to the person any more than it does among the Irish, the
research finds. But East Germans and Hungarians are evenly matched between
those who can take it and those who
losing face. But all will take criticism of their plans better than Greeks,
Portuguese, Spaniards and ltalians, the research finds.
A Hungarian manager
likely to join your company because he likes and respects you,
as much as the career opportunity itself. So friendly interviewing might
in recruitment. Colder, more formal work relationships - as in West
Germany or Austria - might
East Germans better.
Nine out of ten
Hungarians will expect to be judged on the basis of who they are, rather
than what they do. Austrians are similar. And in contrast to other East
Europeans and his Greek neighbours, the typical Bulgarian expects to be
judged more on how he works.
Surprisingly, the research finds East European managers are less
thinkers than the West Germans, Belgians or French. Individual
might motivate managers from Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland and East Germany
better than many
More than half East German
questioned thought the
goal of a company should be profit. This is the greatest proportion
of any country - West or East - and compares with only a quarter of West
Germans and one in eight Hungarians. And three-quarters of East German
managers also believe in getting the job done, no matter how
this may be for employees.
Both these attitudes
should bode well
for the restructuring of East German industry into a united Germany
economy with its associated redundancies. But West Germans might find East
Germans' distrust of "the system"
hard to handle.
East Germans would lie to protect their friends rather than follow the
rules, and might in turn question the West Germans' own values.
the emotional baggage of Communism, other East European managers might
still not be left with anything like Anglo-Saxon business values.
Hungarian and Polish managers
will be much
more loathe to sack people to rationalise their industry than East
Germans. Three out of five Hungarian managers would favour adjusting their
objectives, including profits, to spare existing workers. Mr Wheatley says
the more Catholic countries might retain a view of business modelled more
around personal relationships than Western business values.
National barriers may well be replaced with cultural ones, the research
warns. If that is
the case companies should prepare themselves for business values as
different as those between Latin and Anglo-Saxon countries in the West.