If you are used to an “Anglo-American” business culture, the Turkish hierarchy will almost certainly be the biggest difference in working style you will experience.

Whilst employees of a big firm or government office may well be good friends outside the office, it is highly unusual for them to act as equals at work if they are of different ranks. Input is sometimes requested by senior employees from junior ones, but the final decision  – even on surprisingly small matters – will usually rest higher echelons of the hierarchy.

This hierarchical principle is calculated to make decision-making centralised and fast, since only a small number of people need to be involved in the decision making. On the other hand, a high level manager may also become very difficult to reach or very slow in acting at times when his attention is directed elsewhere.

Hand in hand with this comes a certain freedom of action to a greater extent than what the “Anglo-American” executive may be used to. Important deals can sometimes be secured over a handshake. At the very least, this type of business approach requires fewer meetings, less regulation and the committee load is also significantly less. It is, however, always important to recognise the fact that whoever is at the top of the hierarchy does very much have a veto power over the affairs of the company. If you appear close to closing a deal, it is best to try to get this person’s blessing in some way, without taking up too much of their time, to ensure that office politics does not create a last-minute obstacle.

As a foreigner doing business in Turkey, you will often be introduced to the top people almost as soon as you enter the building, as in most places you will still be a relative novelty and a symbol of the growing reach and success of the company.

Popping by to see someone in the company for a chat and a black tea is almost always appreciated and a good way to build the relationships you will need to succeed in business in Turkey.

All the best of luck with your endeavours!


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