Over the 30 years of my professional life in the EMEA region, the EU’s Southern Mediterranean markets have played an important role. I have led and managed projects executed on a pan-EU basis, yet each market has its own distinct culture. Every time I work on these projects, I am struck by how unique and unrelated the business cultures are in Spain, in Italy, in France and in Greece. Aside from certain areas where the EU has imposed general guidelines, each market has its own regulatory, economic and cultural approaches. Implementing an investment decision or entering a new product market thus requires distinct market-specific benchmarks of success. The stereotypical perception is that most businesses in these countries are predominantly family-owned, SMEs or start-ups and that they are symmetric in business culture, meaning business is done in similar ways. In fact, this is not the case; there is actually much diversity, and to be successful requires cultural nuance. Equally striking is the very little cross-border activity between these countries.
To shed light on their diversity and interactions, the next three country profiles will examine Spain, France and Italy in terms of their inter-regional and cross-border potential.Read More