Working in Central and Eastern Europe – Cultural Business Imperatives, Critical Differences and Opportunities

Philip R. Harris , PhD (Member of the EBR Editorial Advisory Board and author of The New Work Culture (Amherst, MA, HRD Press, 1998).)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Article publication date: 1 June 2000




Harris, P.R. and PhD (2000), "Working in Central and Eastern Europe – Cultural Business Imperatives, Critical Differences and Opportunities", European Business Review, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 174-176.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Those coming from abroad or on the continent to do business or provide professional services in the former Eastern Bloc nations are in for a shock. Both the people and their systems have been culturally conditioned for 40 to 70 years by communist central planning and totalitarian bureaucracy (see “Viewpoint” in European Business Review, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 4‐5). The post‐Soviet governments and people struggle to move beyond that heritage toward increasing free‐market economies and democracy. This book, Working in Central and Eastern Europe, seeks to facilitate the 21st visitors’ success in that Region. It provides pragmatic insights for Westerners and other foreigners to deal with “mindsets” that suffer from culture lag within the global marketplace; with peoples of good will formed by beautiful, centuries‐old music, art and architecture, often operating within very‐old entrenched institutions. Yet there is so much for the expatriate to like and learn from these mature civilizations whose mostly friendly inhabitants long for greater freedom, affulence, and enterprise.

Within the framework of ten chapters, this work is extremely well written and concise, well organized and insightful. Its pithy analysis, anecdotes and tips by two experienced international consultants should enable readers to help “leaders” in the Region to better manage their transitional experience. The writing style is crisp and lively, filled with mini cases and examples about the needs and ambitions of executives and managers in the area. On behalf of AON Consulting, Dr Sears (a member of the EBR editorial advisory board) and Mrs Tamulionyte‐Lentz, though based in Lithuania, work throughout the Region in human resource and organization development. As a result, they offer astute counsel on ineffective supervisory personnel in the CEE area who are afraid of responsibility and decision making, but can benefit by education and training in modern management theory and techniques. The authors document assessment efforts by transnational corporations to update and enhance the skills of local nationals “who are not stupid, just afraid of sticking their necks out”.

The chapter contents range from noting the cultural distinctions and distortions among people in the CEE, as well as their similarities and differences. The authors underscore how foreigners can find points of synthesis and common ground with the locals. They suggest ways to improve customer service and client maintenance in the Region. They examine the influence of Russia, both in past and present, upon the nationals of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as current problems of corruption and other imperatives that affect business success with the very diverse, indigenous populations. They end their text on a positive note by looking to the area’s future and market prospects, concluding with a manager development model that is CEE specific.

This is another in Gulf’s 12 book titles of the Managing cultural differences series written to assist global managers and professionals. It should prove useful to managers, trainers, and academics (see Internet homepage:

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