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ITALIAN BUSINESS CULTURE

Introduction
Culturally rich, Italy has produced the world's best in art, architecture, music and
literature. But Italy's greatest wealth is its people: the gregarious, charming, Italians that seem to
know how to do everything bigger and better. They love their food, their families, their music
and their heritage. They exude confidence, charisma and hospitality. Venice has its canals, Rome
its Coliseum, Florence its heritage of art, Tuscany its color, and the whole country boasts
hundreds of miles of seashore; but of all the beautiful and historic sights Italy has to offer, the
best treat a visitor will find are the colorful Italian people.

1. Cultural values and attitudes

Italian family values
The family is the centre of the social structure and provides a stabilizing influence for its
members.The family provides emotional and financial support to its members.
For Italians having their own personal ideas and objectives in life is very motivating and the
route to happiness is through personal fulfillment. The family network and the group one belongs
to are important social aspects, and rituals such as weddings or Sunday lunches with the family
are occasions that one cant miss.

Politics
The politics of Italy take place in a framework of a parliamentary, democratic republic, and
of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised collectively by the Council of Ministers,
which is led by a President, informally referred to as "premier" or primo ministro (that is, "prime
minister").
Giorgio Napolitano is the President of the Italian Republic, whilst Silvio Berlusconi is the
nation's Prime Minister (President of the Council of Ministers).
Foreign relations
Italy was a founding member of the European Communitynow the European Union
(EU). Italy was admitted to the United Nations in 1955 and is a member and strong supporter of
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and other organizations
Economy
Italy has a capitalist economy with high gross domestic product (GDP) per capital and
developed infrastructure. According to the International Monetary Fund, in 2008 Italy was the
seventh-largest economy in the world and the fourth-largest in Europe.
According to the World Bank, Italy has high levels of freedom for investments, business
and trade. Italy is a developed country, and, according to The Economist, has the world's 8th
highest quality of life. The country enjoys a very high standard of living. According to the last
Eurostat data, Italian per capita GDP at purchasing power parity remains approximately equal to
the EU average, while the unemployment rate (8.5%) stands as one of the EU's lowest.
Italy has the world's 4th largest gold reserve.
The country was the world's 7th largest exporter in 2009. Italy's major exports and
companies by sector are motor vehicles (Fiat Group, Aprilia, Ducati, Piaggio); chemicals and
petrochemicals (Eni); energy and electrical engineering (Enel, Edison); home appliances (Candy,
Indesit), aerospace and defense technologies (Alenia, Agusta, Finmeccanica), firearms (Beretta),
fashion (Armani, Valentino, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, Benetton, Prada,
Luxottica); food processing (Ferrero, Barilla Group, Martini & Rossi, Campari, Parmalat); sport
and luxury vehicles (Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Pagani); yachts (Ferretti, Azimut).
Tourism is one of the fastest growing and profitable sectors of the national economy:
with 43.7 million international tourist arrivals and total receipts estimated at $42.7 billion, Italy
is the fourth highest tourism earner and the fifth most visited country in the world

2. Social behavior
The People
Cultural achievement is Italy's greatest source of pride. Inventiveness, imagination,
intelligence and education are prized. Personal relations are scrupulously maintained with loyalty
highly valued, especially in families. The family is the most important affiliation in Italy.
Meeting and Greeting
When being introduced during a business or social meeting, shake hands with everyone
present -- men, women and children. Shake hands again when leaving.
Ladies should extend their hand first to men.

Friends may greet each other with a kiss on both cheeks.
Many Italians use calling cards in social situations. These are slightly larger than traditional
business cards and include the person's name, address, title or academic honours, and their
telephone number
Body Language
Maintain eye contact while talking. Otherwise Italians might think you are hiding something.
To beckon a waiter or waitress raise your index finger and make eye contact.
Italians are known for using the most body language of all European nations.

3. Business etiquette
Time perception
Italians take punctuality for business meetings very seriously and expect that you will do
likewise; call with an explanation if you are delayed. Deliberate lateness in business is viewed as
sloppy.
Titles and business cards
Business cards are used only in business, not socially, unless requested.
Business cards are exchanged only at the first meeting and should be handed to recipients, not
tossed at them. Do not give a business card to the same person more than once.

Negociations
Establish personal relationships with Italians. Italians like to deal with people they know and
trust. They also tend to believe that work should not be a burden or taken too seriously.
Pragmatism and talent for improvisation are considered keys to success. Protocol, rules and
organization are often ignored.
Negotiations usually take time and patience. Dont rush them. Italians may misinterpret this
as a weakness.
Meetings
Meeting style is unstructured and informal. Formal presentations are not common.
Business decisions are often made and agreed to privately before meetings. The purpose of a
meeting is often to evaluate the mood, sense support and test water -- not to make decisions.
Meetings may be staged to exhibit eloquence, personality and status.
Dining and Entertainment
Business entertainment is generally done at lunch or dinner in a restaurant.
Dinner entertainment is more of a social occasion to get to know people. Business discussions
are usually very limited.
If you invite, you pay for the meal.
Business may be discussed at a breakfast meeting, but it is not common.
Cocktails are not common in Italy. Drinking without eating is rare. Hard drinking is unusual
and not appreciated. Even mild intoxication is considered ill-mannered. Women drink very little
in Italy.
At formal occasions, women generally do not propose toasts.
Italians are proud of their homes and love to give tours. Feel free to ask for a tour when invited
into someone's home.
Dress code
Italy is a major center of European fashion. Italians are chic. Even people in small towns spend a
great deal of money on their wardrobes and dress well at all times.
Dress elegantly but conservatively.
Jackets and ties are required in better restaurants.
Old, torn, dirty clothing are seldom seen and not appreciated.
Men and women dress conservatively and formally for business (men: suits and ties; women:
dresses or suits). Women should wear feminine clothing.
Gifts
Italians are very generous gift givers. You may be very embarrassed if you give a "cheap" or
practical gift.
Gifts should be beautifully wrapped.
Gifts are generally not exchanged at initial business meetings, however, having a gift in your
briefcase in case your Italian hosts give you one is recommended.
High quality liquor, gifts with company logos, desk accessories, music and books are
appreciated.
When invited to someone's home, always bring a small gift for the host or hostess..
Especially for Women
Foreign women can do business without great difficulty in Italy. Being a woman may even be
considered an advantage in some circumstances.
Only 38% of Italian women under 65 are in the labor market -- one of the lowest percentages in
Western Europe. Few Italian women hold managerial positions.
The Italians are generally not inhibited when interacting with the opposite sex. Flirtation is part
of the spirit of life in Italy.
Conclusion
Modern Italy is a democratic republic. It has been ranked the world's twenty-third most-
developed country and its Quality-of-Life Index has been ranked in the top ten in the world.
It is also a great player in the world for ecological sustainability. In the last decade, Italy
has became one of the world's largest producers of renewable energy, ranking as the worlds fifth
largest solar energy producer in 2009 and the sixth largest producer of wind power in 2008.
Italian people seem to be open, curious and tolerant of others uniqueness and manners.
They will tolerate lateness, inefficiency and sincere mistakes, but dislike arrogance and rudeness.
According to the World Bank, Italy has high levels of freedom for investments, business
and trade. Italy is a developed country, and, according to The Economist, has the world's 8th
highest quality of life. The country seems to enjoy a very high standard of living.
Also fashion and design seem to be at a very high standard..
The last but not the least important thing is the cultural cuisine of Italy. Coffee, and more
specifically espresso, has become highly important to it. Some famous dishes and items include
pasta, pizza, lasagna, focaccia, and gelato.
References
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italy
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/country_profiles/1065345.stm
http://www.ediplomat.com/np/cultural_etiquette/ce_it.htm
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2011/jan/03/italy-plastic-bag-ban