• +44 0330 027 0207
  • +1 (818) 532-6908
Cultural diversity management elearning course


Discover what it takes to manage culturally diverse teams.

This Introduction to Cross Cultural Management eLearning Course teaches essential insights and strategies.

Get started in minutes!


Cross Cultural Management Guide for Portugal

The cultural insights below are for managers who want to learn more about the management style and business culture of Portugal.

This guide provides some useful information for managers who are relocating to the country for employment as well as those who may have Portuguese employees in their global or multicultural teams.

Topics include:

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

Being a Manager in Portugal

In order to be a successful manager in Portugal you will need to understand the business set-up is hierarchical.

  • Although warm and hospitable, the Portuguese are also conservative and traditional.
  • They behave formally and display proper etiquette in all situations.
  • It is important to follow etiquette and not appear overly emotional (especially in the early stages of a relationship), which might be mistaken for aggression.
  • This is a relationship-based culture, where it is important to allow your business associates to develop a sense of your personal integrity and trust before commencing business discussions.

The Role of a Manager

When managing in Portugal, it is important to keep in mind that each person has a very distinct role within the organization, and maintaining that role helps to keep order.

  • It is the expectation that supervisors have been chosen because they have more experience and greater knowledge than those they manage.
  • Therefore it is unnecessary, and even inappropriate for them to consult with lower-ranking individuals when decision-making.
  • In Portugal, as in other hierarchical societies, managers may take a somewhat paternalistic attitude toward their employees.
  • They may demonstrate a concern for employees that goes beyond the workplace and strictly professional concerns.

Approach to Change

Portugal is seen to have a medium tolerance for change and risk. It is important for innovations to have a track record or history noting the benefits if they are to be accepted and implemented.

  • While in risk-tolerant environments, failure is perceived as a learning process that encourages confidence in future ventures, failure in Portugal causes a long-term loss of confidence by the individual as well as by others.
  • Because of this attitude, cultural sensitivity is going to be required, especially when conducting group meetings and discussing contributions made by participating individuals.

Approach to Time and Priorities

Portugal is a fluid time culture, and, as is the case with many fluid time cultures, it is also very relationship-oriented.

  • People in Portugal will not want to upset others in order to push through a deadline.
  • While timescales and deadlines need to be set well in advance and reiterated carefully, it should be understood that these will be viewed as flexible.
  • Global virtual working means that some managers may have a greater appreciation of the need to enforce timescales and as such, agreed deadlines are more likely to be met.

Decision Making

It is important to remember that power is held in the hands of the few.

  • This hierarchical nature is reflected in the degree of formality observed among people in business situations.
  • Great deference is paid to authority figures.
  • Job function, the scope of responsibility, and reporting relationships are clearly defined and strictly followed.

Boss or Team Player?

If you are working with people from Portugal, it is important to remember the role that hierarchy plays in teamwork and collaboration.

  • Traditionally, the supervisor is seen to hold that position because of superior knowledge and skills.
  • It would traditionally have been unthinkable for someone of a higher position to collaborate with or ask for ideas from someone of a lower status.
  • This is changing somewhat in younger generations, particularly those employed by multinational corporations.
  • If you would like to encourage participation it is important first to clearly establish a non-threatening work environment and communicate clearly that their participation is desired.
  • Effective management will depend on the individual’s ability to harness the talent of the group assembled and develop any resulting synergies.

Communication and Negotiation Styles

The Portuguese communication style is generally direct and expressive, with a preference for personal interaction and face-to-face communication. They tend to value politeness and courtesy, and it is common for them to use formal titles and honorifics. Nonverbal cues, such as tone of voice and facial expressions, are also important in conveying meaning. Portuguese people are generally comfortable with silence and pauses during conversations, and they may interrupt each other or speak at the same time without causing offense.

  • The Portuguese put great importance on the character of the person with whom they do business, so they will take time to get to know you.
  • They prefer to do business for the long term although at times they focus on short-term gains.
  • Business is conducted slowly and you must not appear impatient.
  • Have printed material available in both English and Portuguese to avoid any possible miscommunication.
  • Do not use high-pressure sales tactics as the Portuguese are offended by aggressive behavior.

cross cultural training online

Get Expert Support

Working with Portugal? Need some help? Then sign-up for your own cultural awareness webinar with one of our country experts.

We customize content just for you!


License Our Management Guides

Management guides for license

Did you know you can upload all our Management Guides onto your company intranet?

Connect your expatriate and international business staff with customised country information at the touch of a button.

Click here for more information.