Increasingly crucial to competitiveness, social responsibility is getting more attention from Greek businesses. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies are being applied by companies to become more competitive in the global market. In a study of 46 Greek companies, the findings revealed that Greek companies have managed to become more active especially on issues related to the environment, human resources and local communities (Metaxas, Tsavdaridou, 2012). CSR is not only important for multinational companies, but equally as important for SMEs because, on both national and European level, they account for over 90% of total business activity, according to the Hellenic Network for Corporate Social Responsibility (HNCSR).
Punctuality is not particularly important for Greeks. They tend to be late for appointments, although they expect their counterparts to be on time for business meetings. Also for this reason, scheduling an appointment is not always necessary, but is courteous. Greeks enjoy socializing with friends and business associates. Dinners are a form of entertainment, which take several hours and are usually followed by drinks.
Gift giving in Greece is seen as a kind gesture. Greeks like to exchange gifts for Christmas, birthdays, and name days. However, since gifts are generally reciprocated, a gift of great value could put a burden on the recipient to spend an equivalent amount of money on you in return. Therefore, a small gift would be greatly appreciated. When invited over for dinner to a Greek home, flowers, sweets or a bottle of wine or liquor are the gifts most frequently offered.
In Greece, gifts are not essential to business relationships and Greeks do not normally expect to exchange gifts on a first meeting. Nevertheless, an occasional gift (mostly at Christmas and Easter) will be very much appreciated. An excellent bottle of liquor or wine, office accessories, fine chocolate, are examples of gifts often offered in business interactions. Gifts are usually nicely wrapped and opened right away.
Business dress code
There is no specific dress code. However, it is advisable to dress conservatively in business meetings, a dark coloured suit for men and professional outfit for women, preferably in dark or subtle colours, avoiding provocative clothing. In some cases, depending on the situation or business area, less formal clothing is acceptable. In the summer months, the weather is very hot, especially in the big cities; it is acceptable to just wear a shirt with trousers and in most cases to not wear a tie. Women can be lightly dressed, avoiding tight clothing. In Greece, first impressions are based largely on the way one is dressed, so this can make a big difference.
Bribery and corruption
The Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 ranks Greece in 94th place in terms of perceived levels of corruption by their citizens. Corruption in Greece became prevalent after 1981; specifically after entering the European Community and electing its first ever Socialist government. Since then, a large number of major corruption scandals (some count over 150) have been exposed in the Greek press. (M. Zoakas, 2010).
The Greek Government, in order to fight corruption in public administration, has created inspection bodies, which investigate cases in central and local public sectors.
Bribery is considered a crime in the Greek Government and it is punished with severe penalties. An OECD Anti-Bribery Convention was ratified by the Greek Parliament on November 5th, 1998 and implemented on February 15th, 1999.
During recent years, the Greek government seems determined to fight corruption and bribery through increasing the effectiveness of legislation and the introduction of severe penalties. In addition, public participation and transparency mechanisms are also needed to improve disclosure of relevant information.
- www.oecd.org/dataoecd/14/7/2386792.pdf [English]
- www.oecd.org/greece [English]
- www.transparency.org/cpi [English]
- international-business-center.com/international_business_gifts_greetings.html [English]