Business culture in Lithuania
Did you know about business culture in Lithuania? Watch this video animation to find out some interesting facts:
Business Culture in Lithuania is characterised by business communication, business etiquette, business meeting etiquette, internship and student placements, cost of living, work-life-balance and social media guide.
With a population of 2.8 million in 2022, Lithuania is a relatively small country in the Northern part of Europe. The largest among the three Baltic States, it neighbours Latvia and Belarus to the north and to the southeast, respectively. To the south, the country borders Poland and to the southwest the Russian exclave of the Kaliningrad Oblast. Reaching 65,300 km2, Lithuania’s land mass is larger than that of Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium or Denmark. Lithuania has approximately 91 km of sandy coastline; however, no more than 38 km of these face the open Baltic Sea. The remaining length of the coast is along the Curonian Spit. Lithuania has an ice-free port in Klaipëda, which is the largest and most important transport hub in the country and links routes through sea, land and railway from both East and West. The climate can be classed as between maritime and continental, with wet, moderate summers and winters. Lithuania is in the Eastern European Time Zone and adheres to CET (UTC +2) during the winter and EEST (UTC +3) during the summer.
Lithuania has had an interesting history. At the end of the 14th century, the country was the largest in Europe and later it formed a union with Poland creating a single dual state, which was only dismantled in 1795. Lithuania recovered its freedom after World War I; however, it was annexed by the USSR in 1940. Fifty years later, it was the first Baltic State to declare its independence from Russia, on the 11th of March 1990.
The Lithuanian population is more than three million people, mostly comprised of Lithuanians, but also Poles, Russians, Belarusians and other ethnic groups. The main religions are Roman Catholicism and Russian Orthodox.
The political situation in Lithuania is comparable to that in the rest of Europe. It is a stable parliamentary democracy, in which the Prime Minister is the head of the government, and also of a pluri-form multi-party system. The supreme legislative power is held by the Seimas (Parliament), consisting of 141 members elected for a term of four years through universal, equal and direct suffrage and by secret ballot. The President holds a primarily ceremonial role as Head of State. The President is elected for a term of five years by popular vote and is eligible to stand for a second term in office. The President chooses the Prime Minister on the approval of the Parliament. The Lithuanian legal system is also similar to the rest of Europe. The Constitutional (Supreme) Court is the highest court in the land, followed by Regional Courts and District Courts. Lithuania has adopted the European Union standards for all of its laws.
Vilnius is the capital and largest city of Lithuania, with a population of 527,000. Kaunas with a population of 337,000 and Klaipëda with a population of 178,000 are the next largest cities. Lithuania is divided into 10 counties each named after their principal city. Each municipality’s government is chosen by democratic elections for municipality councils. There are elections every 4 years and the councils vote for the municipality mayors. The official and most commonly spoken language is Lithuanian, which is one of only two remaining living languages from the Baltic language branch of the Indo-European language family (the other being Latvian). The second and third most commonly spoken languages in Lithuania are Russian and English.
Lithuania joined the European Union on the 1st of May 2004 and NATO on the 28th of March 2004. Later, on the 21st of December 2007, Lithuania became a fully–fledged member of the Schengen Area and is also a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Among the Baltic States, Lithuania’s economy is the largest and also the most diversified. Intensive industrialization during the Soviet regime resulted in companies specializing in electronics, chemicals, machine tools, food processing, metal processing, and construction materials. Light manufacturing involves the production of textiles, ready-to-wear clothing, furniture and household appliances. Services are now the fastest-growing segment in Lithuanian economy. Dynamic transport and transit services are supported by a well-developed road system, as well as the only oil pipeline and refinery in the Baltic States. Tourism is also growing at a rapid pace thanks to the historic legacy of the cities Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipëda and the natural resources for ecotourism and spa treatments that the country offers. The information technology and telecommunications sector is now one of the most promising sectors of Lithuania’s economy. Lithuania is also taking a leading position in biotechnology, compared to the other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The Lithuanian economy is a very open one, with its exports having a high proportion of imported content, which implies that Lithuania attracts foreign exporters of intermediate and investment goods.
The main trading partners of the country are Russia, Germany, Latvia, Estonia, Netherlands and Belarus. Mineral products, chemicals, textiles, machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, and plastics amount to more than 60% of exports. Imported commodities are primarily mineral products, transport equipment, chemicals, machinery and equipment, textiles and clothing, metals and lasers.
Xenophobia: being a foreigner in Lithuania
Foreigners represent less than one percent of the Lithuanian population and most come to the country for family reasons, although students are a constantly growing group. While having a positive attitude towards foreigners in general, Lithuanians have different opinions on foreign nationals who come to live and work in the country. Most of them believe that foreigners increase the competition for jobs and will drive down wages. This opinion is particularly strong amongst pensioners, civil servants and government workers. Young and highly qualified people are more likely to think positively of immigration and see highly qualified workers as valuable to the Lithuanian economy.
In general, Lithuanians are hospitable and ready to welcome new friendships and opportunities for business.
Successful business requires good knowledge of the foreign country culture. You have to be prepared to encounter different attitudes and beliefs that influence the business decisions. This section is intended to provide the basic ‘ground rules’ for doing business in Lithuania.
The rights to free education are guaranteed by law for primary and secondary school and children begin their education when they are seven. It is possible for a child to start school at the age of six, if they are mature enough and the parents request it. Secondary education is organised according to a two-year curriculum, which is personalised to the individual student with the assistance of a guidance counsellor. Students study a number of compulsory subjects, as well as a minimum number of optional ones.
The higher education system is divided between colleges which offer apprenticeships and job-specific training and universities which offer academic programmes of study. College graduates have the option to continue to university by undertaking foundation courses or specialised training programmes. 93% of Lithuanians have completed secondary educationor higher, which is greater than the European average of 73%. Approximately 34% of the population has a higher education qualification and Lithuania is first in the World Competitiveness Rankings in terms of literacy and in the European Union for completion of secondary or higher education.
Individuals who have completed their general education abroad and would like to apply to study at institutions of higher education in Lithuania are required to contact the Lithuanian Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education (Suvalki St. 1, LT-03106, Vilnius, Internet website www.skvc.lt) and present notarised certificates that verify their educational achievements.
The educational standard in Lithuania has always been good. The Lithuanians are generally well educated and participate in training and long-life learning programmes after graduation. For them, education is seen as a way of getting a good job and earning a good living.
Mobility of the labour force is high among the younger generation. Many have moved from the countryside to the big cities to look for better paying jobs and 67% of the Lithuanian population now live in towns. With Lithuania joining the EU, people also have the opportunity to travel abroad for jobs.
The Lithuanian Law on Education (2011) states that parties of the education system of Lithuania have the right to participate in international collaboration with foreign partners. The government programmes in education promote mobility and internationalisation, with the aim of improving educational quality, supporting the development of Lithuanian (Baltic) studies abroad and encouraging cooperation between foreign and Lithuanian researchers. There are funding schemes in place to retain and attract highly qualified researchers to carry out work in Lithuania.
Lithuanians are polite, have respect for others and expect the same behaviour as in the other Catholic countries where simple manners are observed. Lithuanians do not really have Taboos about subjects of conversation that should be avoided; except that you should show respect and avoid open criticism of Lithuania or its people. Lithuanians are very proud of themselves and their country, so it is not acceptable to criticise them, their government or the economic situation, even as a joke. If they criticize their own country in your presence, it is best to just give a word of encouragement, like you think things are getting better. Lithuanians are also very private and are likely not to discuss their family with you until they get to know you better. It is not acceptable to ask about a person’s income or financial situation. According to some opinions, openly displaying feelings when your partner is of the same sex could lead to a negative reaction.
Another sensitive topic is basketball, which Lithuanians call their second religion. You may get yourself into a long, passionate and possibly angry discussion, if you criticize a Lithuanian basketball team or the style of their game.
There are a number of behaviours that are not acceptable in Lithuania. The consumption of alcohol in parks, squares and other public places is prohibited by law along with smoking in cafes, restaurants, halls and on public transport, except in specially marked smoking areas, and littering from car windows or in public places. Fines can be quite expensive and these offences are taken seriously.
Avoid kissing, when greeting a person that you do not know well, a handshake is far more common and appropriate. Usually only relatives or close friends kiss when meeting.
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