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Business meeting styles



Table of contents Country introduction ...................................................................................................... 3 Meeting styles ................................................................................................................. 5 Patterns of information sharing ..................................................................................... 7 Display of emotions ........................................................................................................ 9 The role of authority .................................................................................................... 11 Reasoning styles ............................................................................................................ 13 Local meeting terminology .......................................................................................... 14 Bibliography .................................................................................................................. 16 Colophon ....................................................................................................................... 17


Business meeting styles

Country introduction The Republic of Croatia (Croatia) is a country that is located in Central Europe in a region also known as the Balkan region. It is adjacent to the Adriatic Sea and is surrounded by several countries. These countries (Hungary in the north east, Serbia in the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Montenegro in the south east and Slovenia to the North West) have had a lot of influences on Croatia in ways of history, politics and culture.

The Republic of Croatia Capital:



4.5 million


56.594 km²


Croatian (Hrvatska)

National currency:


The majority of the population of Croatia is between the age of 15 and 64 years old. Almost 90% of the people in Croatia is Roman Catholic. Other religions in Croatia are Orthodoxy (4.4%) and Islam (1.3%). Several ethnicities live in Croatia. Most of them are Croats, 89.6% and 4.5% are Serb. The other 5.9% include Bosniak, Hungarian, Slovene, Czech and Roma people (TMA world, 2010).

History Croatia’s history is very rich. The countries history dates back to the medieval era, when the region we now know as Croatia was divided in to several dukedoms. Later on, a kingdom was formed. It was called the Kingdom of Croatia. Croatia was in a lot of wars ever since. After the Croatian-Ottoman Wars, the country became part of the Austrian-Hungary Empire. Croatia had a lot of incidents and wars with their neighbours. However, in 1929 Croatia became part of Yugoslavia. After WWII, Croatia got more independent, starting with gaining greater respect for the Croatian language. In 1992, the United Nations gave Croatia diplomatic recognition. In 1995 the Croatian War of Independence ended and Croatia became an independent country shortly after that (

Tourism Thanks to its location, Croatia enjoys a continental climate as well as a Mediterranean climate. A lot of the economy in Croatia is based on tourism. Thanks to the beautiful coastline of Croatia with its hundreds of tiny islands that look like


Croatia small paradises on earth, the tourism in Croatia is flourishing. The country’s economy is based on a market economy that had a great boost after the last wars in the mid 90's. For the future of Croatia, this means that the rising popularity as a holiday destination will give a great boost for the economy. As a result, the younger generation in Croatia is more likely to travel and have international contacts. Hopefully, this can be the beginning of flourishing period for the Croatian social life and economy (Lewis, 2006).


Business meeting styles

Meeting styles When it comes to meetings, the Croats have their own habits, styles and ways to communicate with each other. Not knowing these styles of communication during a meeting can make it a lot harder when you want to do business in Croatia. Croats are eager to do business with foreign people. A reason for this eagerness could be that they would love to join the European Union. However, the meeting styles within Europe are very different and so is the Croatian style.

Before the meeting The Croats find it important that you are well prepared for the meeting. You will impress the Croats by being polite and well dressed. Be sure to be on time since the Croats appreciate punctuality. When you plan a meeting in Croatia, be sure to do is on time. The Croatian people like to be prepared and it is appreciated if the meeting is planned several weeks before it actually takes place. Also, confirm your appointment by phone a couple of days before the meeting. The Croats tend to turn up late on their appointment but will always call you about delays. Be sure to be on time and when you are late due to circumstances, always keep in touch with the one you have an appointment with. The Croats are not very used to send and receive emails. That's why you always need to be sure to call the one you have an appointment with, because he won't always read the email you sent him. (TMA World, 2010)

During the meeting When you enter a meeting, be prepared that you should start off with some small talk. You will be offered a coffee before the meeting starts. The Croats have a lot of respect for people with titles. Be sure to greet everyone in the room and start with the women in the room. Then greet the men and remember to use titles when greeting the men and women. Soon enough, they will invite you to call them by their first names. Until that point, be polite and use titles. It will take several meetings before it is appreciated to negotiate during a meeting. This is because the Croats will expect a relationship between two people who do business together. Therefore, it is considered impolite to hurry down to business. Building a relationship is also why the Croats don't really use agenda's. While it is acceptable to bring one, the Croats will not always follow the agenda. One of the reasons for this is that the Croats don't like to control a meeting very much. This is


Croatia why meetings mostly end up in a conversation where everybody appears to talk at the same time. (TMA World, 2010)

After the meeting When meetings end, the deal is sealed with a shot of Rakia. Rakia is a typical Croatian alcoholic beverage. Rejecting this will raise eyebrows and people will get suspicious. Also, it is very common for meetings to end in a diner. Most likely, you will get invited by your host. Feel free to accept this invitation. (TMA World, 2010) We can conclude that it is important to prepare yourself before going into a meeting in Croatia. Be sure your appointment or meeting is confirmed before you go to the meeting. It will take several meetings before the negotiations start. The Croats don’t like to hurry down to business. When the meetings are done and the deal is closed, you will have dinner with the business partners and will have a pleasure of tasting a typical Croatian drink, Rakia.


Business meeting styles

Patterns of information sharing The way people share their information can tell you a lot about the person you are working with. It can give you an image of how these people value information. It can also tell you about the collaboration between colleagues or the emotional commitment to the information. Looking at the patterns of information sharing in organisations, we see how these patterns affect not only the organisational culture but also the economy of Croatia and its position in the economical world.

On a business level Inside a business organisation, there can be several ways to share information. This depends on the organisational culture. The business organisations in Croatia can be divided in a group of traditional organisations and modern organisations (TMA World, 2010). In the traditional organisations, the information will always go from the top of the organisation to the bottom. This top-down information flow is based on a need to know basis. This means that workers at the bottom of the organisation will only get information if it is really important to them. The traditional organisations also have a bureaucratic style of communication, which means that information cannot be shared as easy as it would be in another style of organisation. However, there are modern organisations as well. These have a flatter hierarchy than the traditional ones. Also, the way of communicating within a modern organisation is far more informal. Information is more likely to be shared with all types of employees. Thanks to open communication within the company, the employees will have easy access to their superiors and their information.

The bigger picture On a national scale, information sharing can have big influences on Croatia (M. Brown, T. Japelli, M. Pagano, 2007). It can affect the county's economic position within Europe. For instance, sharing information among Croatian banks can affect their performances and, indirect, the credit market performance. Although the information on finance, costs of finance and firm debt is, the development in sharing information in Croatia is low. This means that there is a low level of institutional reform and little macroeconomic stability. When organisations share information instead of only competing with each other they can become stronger and will eventually help Croatia to become a stronger and more important country in Europe.


Croatia These observations imply that the patterns of information sharing in Croatia depend on the different types of organisations. Due to bureaucratisation and a steep hierarchy in traditional organisations, information is not being shared a lot. Information is easier to get in the modern organisations because of the informal way of communicating and a flatter organisation structure. The Croats are getting more used to sharing information but the Croatian companies are far from transparent. By being more transparent, the country's economy can grow. This is how the Croatians share their information and how it can affect the organisations and the country's position in the economical world.


Business meeting styles

Display of emotions Emotions have different meanings in different cultures. In some cultures it is not acceptable to show emotions in a business environment. In others it is very normal and even appreciated to show your emotions during a meeting. This differs from country to country and depends on the county's culture. Like any other country, Croatia also has its own culture and rules for showing emotions. To understand the Croatian behaviour during a meeting, we must know about the way the Croats display their emotions. To fully understand, we need to know about the emotional behaviour in general as well as during a meeting.

Emotions in general To start with, the Croatian people are very patriotic (Lewis, 2006). They are very proud of their country and their cultural history. Croatia is influenced by their Balkan neighbours, they are very close to the Austrian culture. Therefore, they consider themselves European. It is common in Croatia to show affection in public. It is normal to see people kissing and hugging each other. This is mostly done by young people, while the elderly will disapprove this behaviour and will pretend not to see it. As well as showing affection, publicly how anger and disapproval is normal in Croatia. Showing deep emotions like suffering is unlikely to be seen. In Croatia, people will look down upon people who show these emotions (TMA World, 2010).

Emotions during meetings Because of pride and traditional roles for men and women, it is a sign of weakness to appear too emotional during a meeting. Also, giving to much information about your private life can be a sign of weakness as well. Croats are a bit reserved when you first get to know them. They appreciate small talk and the Croats tend to use humour in their meetings. The humour that is used is very sarcastic and cynical and therefore can be misunderstood by people who are not used to this kind of humour. When the Croats get to know each other, they become more relaxed. They start to use expressive body language and stand close to each other when in conversation. They accept it when the other person is a bit more reserved, but when someone tries to widen the gap between two people that will be seen as impolite. Concluding these facts, we can state that the Croats won’t show a lot of emotions during a meeting because this will make them look weak. They will make jokes and use intensive body language. They like showing their appreciation to each other in


Croatia public. In general, the Croats like showing emotions as long as it's not a very intense emotion like heavy suffering.


Business meeting styles

The role of authority Knowing the role of authority within a business organisation can be very useful when doing business in Croatia. Not only will it help you to understand the Croatian society, it will increase your chances on doing business in Croatia. Knowing the role of authority, you can adjust your approach and develop a better business relationship with your client. Before looking at the role of authority during a meeting, it is best to get an overview of the role that authority generally has in Croatia. Afterwards, we look at the role in business organisations. Eventually, a view on authority in business meetings will be given.

Authority in Croatian society To understand the role of authority in Croatian society, we look at the hierarchical differences in the society. Looking at this society, several layers can be described (TMA World, 2010). At the top of the pyramid, the urban people with good jobs can be found. Many of those people are Christian or Jewish. Just underneath this group, there are the urban people with less important, but decent jobs. Although many of these urban people moved to the city from out a rural area, they look down upon those people. Needless to say, the rural people are considered to be below the urban types. At the bottom of the pyramid, the ethnic Albanians can be found. But there is another group of people in Croatia. This group is the Romany, or gypsies and does not take part in the Croatian society. The Croatians are very aware of these different classes. The group that is in the lower regions of the pyramid will look up to a person from a higher layer.

Authority in business After looking at the role of authority in the Croatian society, we can look at the role it plays within a business organisation. Croatian companies are divided into two types of business organisations. We separate new businesses from traditional ones. After the war in the 1990's a lot of companies came to Croatia to do business. This helped Croatia a lot, as it made it easier to rebuild the economy. The businesses from outside of Croatia were very different from the Croatian ones. The differences already occur by starting a company. The Croatian people don't like to take risks and therefore, it is no surprise that the new businesses are more western than the traditional. Although most of these companies are in tourism, an industry known for its informal structure, the differences with traditional Croatian companies are prominent. The traditional business organisations have a vertical hierarchy, which


Croatia means that the difference between boss and employee is big. The workers deeply respect their superiors but have little interaction with them. This is due to the communication within a traditional company, which is top-down only. Although Croatia is a traditional country, the amount of new business organisations is increasing (Lewis, 2009). Therefore there will be more businesses using a horizontal hierarchy instead of a vertical one.

Authority in meetings Now that we have an overview on the role of authority in general as well as in business organisations, we can take a look at how Croatian people will deal with authority during a meeting. After seeing how Croats respect authority in their society as well as in their business organisations, it may be no surprise that during a meeting, there is great respect for the chairman. However, the chairman is unlikely to use a very strict agenda. The Croats see an agenda more as a guide throughout a meeting (Croatia: Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette). Also, the Croats don't like to be rushed into doing business. First there will be some small talk. When talking business, the Croats like their information to be clear, as they don't like to take risks. Since authority is much respected, it is not likely that an employee is the one making jokes during a meeting. Also during a meeting, the role of authority is respected. Looking at the previous facts, it is only logical that Croatia scores 73 in the power distance dimension, element of the Cultural Dimensions of Geert Hofstede (Croatia). This means that the Croatians accept hierarchical order. Geert Hofstede is known for his Cultural Dimension theory. He divided six dimensions. These contain the power distance, individual versus collectivism, masculinity versus femininity, uncertainty avoidance, long term versus short term orientation and indulgence versus restraint. Now that we know how Croatian people deal with authority in their society, business organisations and meeting, it is easier to understand the score of 73 in power distance dimension.


Business meeting styles

Reasoning styles A cultural background has all kinds of influences on a person’s behaviour. The way one acts or thinks is all related to what kind of culture the person has. The previous chapters explained about the way the Croatian culture influences the way people act. The main subject of these chapters was how the meeting styles where affected by the Croatian culture. This chapter is about how the Croatian culture influences the way the Croats reason and eventually make decisions. A lot of aspects of the Croatian culture form a reasoning style that is unique for Croatia and although influenced by, very different from the other European countries. These aspects contain the effectiveness of Croats, as well as the rationality and directness in communicating with each other.

Aspects of reasoning style As explained in the chapter about emotional display, the Croats are known to be emotional. It is accepted to show these emotions in public. This use of emotions will lead to taking decisions that are influenced by emotion. Croats are not known for their rationality. The communication style of the Croats is also an important part of reasoning. This is because the Croats are very direct. People with a direct attitude towards others are used to process information in a direct way. This will lead to a more direct way of thinking as well and this way the reasoning style of the Croats. Another aspect that contributes to the reasoning style is the organisational structures. The structure a person is familiar with will affect the reasoning of that person. People who work in traditional organisations are more used to hierarchy and will be reacting in a different way in the same situation than people who work in modern organisations. As a conclusion, it is to say that those different parts of a country's culture, have a big influence on the reasoning style of Croatian people.



Local meeting terminology It is appreciated to know some Croatian words en sentences when doing business in Croatia. Not only will it come in handy when meeting with a Croatian business partner, it is also a sign of respect to talk a bit of Hrvatski since the Croats are very proud of their country.

Useful Croatian word (TMA World, 2010): English












Thank you


Many thanks

Puno hvala

Excuse me




I don’t understand

Je ne razumijem

What‘s your name?

Kako ti je ime?

How much is it?

Koliko kosjta?

Where is...?

Gdje je...?



My hotel

Moj hotel



Post office






Useful Croatian business words (TMA World, 2010) Sometimes there are several ways to say something in Hrvatski when the English have only one expression for it.





Poduzeće, ustanova


Poduzeće, ustanova

Financial corporation

Financijska ustanova/poduzeće

Business meeting styles Holding poduzeće, krovno poduzeće (u grupi poduzeća), Holding corporation

matica, matično poduzeće Zamjenjiva stopa (vrsta promjenjive stope Obnovljivih kredita koja se može Zamijeniti drugom po

Renegotiable rate

Obnavljanju/zanavljanju kredita) Poduzeće u privatnom

Privately owned enterprise

Vlasništvu, privatno poduzeće

Consumer price index

Indeks potrošačkih cijena

Instalment credit

Kredit na rate

Managing Director

Generalni direktor:

Offshore company

Offshore poduzeće, "izvanteritorijalno" poduzeće Harmonizirani indeks potrošačkih cijena

Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP)

Polica otplate kredita,

Capital redemption policy

Οsiguranje otplate kredita



Bibliography Websites 

Croatia (n.d.) Retrieved March 14, 2012 from Geert Hofstede:

Martin Brown, Tullio Japelli, Marco Pagano. Information sharing and credit: Firm-level evidence from transition countries. (2007). Retrieved March 13, 2012 from Science Direct:

Croatia: Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2012, from Kwintessential Ltd:

History and Homeland War. (n.d.) Retrieved March 17, 2012. From

Books 

Lewis, Richard D.. (2006). When cultures collide:leading across cultures, third edition.(Books24x7 version) Nicholas Brealey Publishing

TMA World. (2010). Flightpack Croatia. Retrieved March 15, 2012, from Surfgroepen CCBS:


Business meeting styles

Colophon NUR: 812 First edition: 2012 Authors: Jules Huijskens. Joël van Bodegraven Series editor: Sander Schroevers Editorial team: Darjalha Bourgui, Roxan van Graas, Liana Thijssen Inner design: Lay-out team minor CCBS, Jaguar Print, Cover design: Farhana Faroque Cover graphic: Hanna Zabielska Copyright © the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, 2012 Text copyright © the respective authors, 2012 All rights reserved. No part of this e-book may be reproduced, stored in a database or retrieval system, or published in any form or in any way, electronically, mechanically, by print, photo copy, scan or any other means without prior written permission from the editor: In so far as the making of copies from this edition is allowed on the basis of Article 16h-16m of the Auteurswet 1912 jo., the Decree of the 27th of November 2002, Bulletin of Acts and Decrees 575, the legally due compensation should be paid to Stichting Reprorecht (P.O. Box 3060, 2130 KB Hoofddorp, The Netherlands). For the inclusion of excerpts from this edition in a collection, reader and other collections of works (Art. 16 of the Copyright Act 1912) please refer to the editor. The greatest care has been taken in compiling this e-book. However, no responsibility can be accepted by the respective authors, the editorial board or the Hogeschool van Amsterdam for the accuracy of the information presented. All material has been scanned on plagiarism on Ephorus beforehand, any inadvertent omissions can be rectified in future editions. In the preparation of this e- book every effort was made to avoid the use of actual company names or trade names. If any has been used inadvertently, the editor will change it in any future reprint if they are notified. Where opinion is expressed, it is that of individual authors and does not necessarily coincide with the views of the Hogeschool van Amsterdam.


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Business meeting styles in Croatia

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