Poland

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DOING BUSINESS IN POLAND

Following the fall of communism in East Europe, Poland was able to transform its socialist-style planned economy in to a liberal market economy in the early 1990s. Now a modernised economy and a regional power it has the 8th largest economy globally. Also one of the most populous country in Central Europe, Poland’s consumer market potential is more than 38 million people and with improving business conditions, corporate ventures in to this country could be very rewarding. Following the economic crisis of the previous decade Poland fared better than many European countries and the current financial climate is overall positive. Strengths of the Polish market include foreign investment incentives, increasing transparency, a highly qualified and competitive workforce, and a stable political situation.

Despite the advantages of doing business in Poland, there are also significant challenges to overcome. There is a lack of clarity and transparency in the tax administration, difficulties with enforcing contracts and a degree of corruption, though this is not a widespread problem. Though Poland is a fast-developing country there is still poor infrastructure in many areas particular outside of the urban centres.

Business etiquette in Poland generally maintains a professional approach. Working relationships are founded on trust and familiarity, but it is also important to recognise that corporate culture is formal and hierarchical. The Polish battle for self-governance and sovereignty is reflected in a patriotic population attached to its cultural heritage and traditions and therefore knowledge of local customs is vital to ensure positive rapports.

The World Business Culture website is an invaluable resource for learning about the do’s and don’ts of business in Poland. Whether you are interested in the cultural quirks, tax system, or the legal frameworks our expertise can aid the smooth transition into this area of Europe.

OVERVIEW

Poland has been the most successful of all the countries in central and eastern Europe and has managed the transition from its former Soviet era system to a liberal, free-market economy remarkably well. Poland even grew during 2008 whilst the rest of the world was in seeming economic meltdown.

How did Poland achieve this success when so many of its neighbours have found the transition much more difficult? Poland got its institutions right from the outset – it focused on the rule of law, on property rights, democratic accountability and on building robust market institutions. Having got those things right, it then worked hard at making EU accession a success. The result? One of the smoothest movements from middle-income to high-income status on record.

Many international companies have found doing business in Poland to be highly profitable and have benefited from a well-educated population who are both internationalist and aspirational. Many Poles have worked abroad, learnt English and then returned home to work for one of the many global companies who have set up operations not only in Warsaw but also many of the second-tier cities.

If you are thinking of doing business in Poland or with Polish colleagues we recommend that you learn about Polish business culture in advance. Poland has manged to work smoothly with its Western European neighbours but that does not mean that it has adopted the same approach to day-to-day business activities as Germany (it’s largest trading partner.) Poland has its own unique business culture which is, like the rest of Poland, going through a period of transition – some say it has more than one business culture split along generational lines. Why not find out before you get there?

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Polish business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips