Cross Cultural Management Guide - Croatia


What will you Learn in this Guide?

In this guide, expatriate managers will gain an understanding of a number of key cross cultural areas when working in Croatia:

  • Hierarchy
  • Leadership style
  • Time and scheduling 
  • Communication style and; 
  • Negotiation style 


Gain an Expert Understanding:

Once you've read this guide, ensure the success of your Croatia business venture by: 

  • Taking part in a two hour live webinar, customised to meet your unique needs, with one of our Croatia country and culture training experts or;
  • Contacting us in respect to our Croatia consultancy services



 Being a Manager in Croatia

The business set up in Croatia is very formal and cross cultural management will be more successful if you bear in mind the importance of being courteous at all times. Although gregarious by nature, many Croatian businesspeople are somewhat reserved and formal in business.They are also likely to be very formal with people they don't know, although this will change as the relationship builds.  You may wish to consider the following:

  • In many ways Croatia remains a country in transition. The government is keen to forge ties with the West while former state-run industries are prone to mind-numbing bureaucracy. The government has created a liberal framework for foreign investment so that investors are granted special rights and incentives for investing in the country.
  • Cross cultural communication will be more effective when bearing in mind that although most businesspeople understand the need to adopt Western efficiency into their operations, not all are comfortable with international business practices. In general, people under the age of 35 may be more open to different ideas than older businesspeople who worked during the Communist regime. Therefore, it is imperative that you treat each person as an individual and be prepared to modify your style to match the profile of the person with whom you are dealing.


The Role of a Manager

Cross cultural sensitivity is necessary when working as a manager in Croatia. Bear in mind the following: 

  • It is a good idea not to chastise employees publicly as Croatians tend to be very sensitive about the way in which they are perceived. Likewise, be careful not to come across as publicly critical of your colleagues.
  • Croatians are often very career-focused and will work exceedingly hard to achieve their goals. If you need to correct behavior, find something to compliment first and then gently mention the behavior you wish the subordinate to change.


Approach to Change

  • Croatia’s intercultural adaptability and readiness for change is improving although changes are still made slowly, requiring a considerable amount of thought, planning and evaluation.
  • Cross cultural sensitivity is important with Croatia’s attitude toward risk dramatically impacted by the negative ramifications of failure on both the individual and the group.


Approach to Time and Priorities

  • Croatia is a moderate time culture and there may be some flexibility to strict adherence to schedules and deadlines. Nevertheless, the expectations of global business have caused the people from Croatia to adopt relatively strict standards of adhering to schedules.
  • When working with people from Croatia, it’s advisable to reinforce the importance of the agreed-upon deadlines and how that may affect the rest of the organization.
  • Successful cross cultural management will depend on the individual’s ability to provide and meet deadlines.


Decision Making

Since Croatia is a fairly hierarchical culture, decisions are often made at the top of the company. You may find that:

  • Even though managers may not be involved in making decisions, they may give the impression of having been consulted when relaying information to their subordinates.
  • In general, the standards of education and technical competence are relatively high. Perhaps as a holdover from the communist era, older employees may prefer not to admit to a mistake. If an error is brought to their attention, they may well blame it on outside influences.


Boss or Team Player?

In post communist countries, there is a tradition of teamwork inherited from the communal aspects of the previous era where groups and work units commonly met together to discuss ideas and create plans. However, those plans seldom resulted in implementation or results, leading to apathy and cynicism among the workers:

  • Today the after-effects are still evident among much of the older generation resulting in a lack of drive and energy. However, there is vibrancy among the younger generation, who seem to be eager to tackle many of the challenges and take the opportunities presented. They will participate in teams and share ideas, but they will need to be coached in the process.
  • Be aware that nepotism has previously been very common practice in Croatia.  With family connections being given preference for vacancy above those with the appropriate skills.  Although it's becoming less acceptable, it still happens. 


Communication and Negotiation Styles

Croatians tend to be moderately direct in their communication style which means they are likely to say what they think - although this will always be done with tact and diplomacy. However, may also find that the focus on manners and politeness means that negative news may be given in a rather roundabout manner - meaning that the communication style becomes more indirect as opposed to direct.  You may also find that:

  • It may take several meetings for your Croatian business colleagues to warm up and drop their veneer of reserve and formality. Take time developing personal relationships as this will benefit your business relationships.
  • A degree of cross cultural adaptability is necessary. Remember that business is conducted slowly; there is a great deal of red tape to get through and that Croatians are not straight forward to deal with. 
  • When it comes to negotiations, taking the time to build relationships in advance will help build trust and reduce some of the formality.  

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