Facts and Statistics
Location: Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea, between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia
Climate: Mediterranean and continental; continental climate predominant with hot summers and cold winters; mild winters, dry summers along coast
Population: 4,493,312 (July 2007 est.)
Ethnic Make-up: Croat 89.6%, Serb 4.5%, other 5.9% (including Bosniak, Hungarian, Slovene, Czech, and Roma) (2001 census)
Religions: Roman Catholic 87.8%, Orthodox 4.4%, other Christian 0.4%, Muslim 1.3%, other and unspecified 0.9%, none 5.2% (2001 census)
Language in Croatia
The Croatian language is a South Slavic language which is used primarily by the inhabitants of Croatia as well as Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatian is based on the Ijekavian pronunciation of the Stokavian dialect (with some influence from Cakavian and Kajkavian) and written with the Croatian alphabet.
German and English are the most common second languages. French, Italian, Czech and Hungarian are also spoken.
Croatian Society and Culture
The majority of the population are Croats. Minorities include Serbs, Hungarians and Gypsies. The population is predominantly Roman Catholic, although there are Christian Orthodox, Muslim, and Jewish minorities, mostly living in Zagreb.
The Catholic Church plays a large role in Croatian society. Historically, the clergy played a pivotal role in the country’s education and culture. Under Communist rule The Church had difficult relations with the authorities, constantly remaining loyal to Rome. Between 1945 and 1952, many priests were shot or imprisoned.
After communism was defeated, the church slowly started to re-create its once prominent role in people’s lives. Croatians are especially devoted to the Blessed Virgin (called "Gospa"). There are sanctuaries throughout the country built in her honour. Each village and town has a patron saint and that saint's feast day is celebrated with a procession and church ceremony. Some villages still have a traditional bonfire on their patron saints’ day. Many professionals also have their own patron saint.
Croats are extremely proud of their heritage and culture and are thus staunch nationalists. They call their country "Our Beautiful Homeland" ("Lijepa naša"), which is also the title of the national anthem.
The sense of nationalism comes both from their long and rich culture as well as a legacy of foreign invasion and control.
Folklore plays a key role in preserving the culture. Life experiences are translated into verse, poetic songs, melodies, fairy tales, symbolic rituals, music, dance, costumes, and jewellery. Folksongs and poems often attest to the sentiment and regard between family members.
A Family Orientated People
The family is still the basis of the social structure. The extended family is the norm and relatives remain quite close with both the mother and the father’s sides. The family provides its members with a social network and assistance in times of need. Even though it is becoming increasingly common for the nuclear family to have its own house, Croatians will take in elderly parents rather than send them to a nursing home. Weekends are considered family time. Few Croatians will allow business concerns to interfere with this important part of their lives.
Customs and Etiquette in Croatia
Meeting and Greeting
. Greetings on initial meetings will tend to be formal and reserved.
. A handshake, direct eye contact and the appropriate greeting for the time of day are standard.
. "Dobro jutro" (good morning), "dobro dan" (good day), and "dobro veèer" (good evening).
. Address people with their honorific titles plus surname. If you are unsure of titles then use "Gospodin" for Mr, "Gospodja" for Mrs and "Gospodice" for Miss).
. Only close friends and family members tend to use first names. Never jump to first names terms without being invited to.
. Close friends may greet each other with an embrace and a kiss on each cheek. Again, wait until the Croatian initiates this form of greeting. Some older
. At social gatherings hosts introduce guests, usually starting with the women and then moving on to the men in a rough approximation of age order, oldest to youngest.
Gift Giving Etiquette
Some general gift giving tips include:
. If invited to someone’s house, bring flowers for the hostess. The host may be given a box of chocolates or a bottle of good wine.
. Do not give chrysanthemums as they are used at funerals and for gravestones.
. When giving flowers, make sure there are an odd number of stems.
. Gifts are generally opened when received.
Table manners are relatively casual as people like to eat and chat at meal times. There are however standards of good behaviour that should be adhered to. Remember, when in doubt, watch others and copy what they do.
. Wait to be shown where to sit.
. Table manners are Continental, i.e. the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
. At formal meals the napkin is unfolded and placed on the lap.
. Do not begin eating until the host signals to begin.
. Refusing second helpings initially is polite. After the host insists you should take more.
. Leaving a small amount of food on your plate indicates that you are finished eating.
Business Etiquette in Croatia
Business in Croatia is formal and consequently initially reserved. Once a relationship develops this will change. Initially at least:
. Use the handshake with eye contact and a smile.
. Wait for a woman to extend her hand first.
. Greet the person with the appropriate salutation for the time of day.
. Use professional business titles.
. Business cards are exchanged without formal ritual.
. Include titles and professional qualifications on business cards.
. Although not a absolutely necessary having one side of your business card translated into Croatian shows some thought.
Direct and straightforward talk is valued in Croatia, however there is also an emphasis on choosing your words correctly and being diplomatic so as not to cause upset. Often, the level of the relationship will determine how direct someone is or can be. For newly established relationships diplomacy is key so you may find people are not always willing to speak their minds.
. Meeting schedules are not very rigid in Croatia. There may be an agenda but it serves more as a guideline for the discussion than anything else.
. Be prepared for lengthy meetings. People may go off on tangents plus time is never a factor to bring a meeting to a close.
. There may be some small talk at the beginning of meetings. This would become more important as the relationship develops. Never jump straight into business as this may come across as rude.
. Initially at least, be sure to temper your communication style if you are used to being quite direct. Building the relationship is more important initially and should be focused upon.
Being a Manager in Croatia
The business set up in Croatia is very formal and cross cultural management will be more successful if you bear in mind the importance of being courteous at all times. Although gregarious by nature, many Croatian businesspeople are somewhat reserved and formal in business.
In many ways Croatia remains a country in transition. The government is keen to forge ties with the West while former state-run industries are prone to mind-numbing bureaucracy. The government has created a liberal framework for foreign investment so that investors are granted special rights and incentives for investing in the country.
Cross cultural communication will be more effective when bearing in mind that athough most businesspeople understand the need to adopt Western efficiency into their operations, not all are comfortable with international business practices. In general, people under the age of 35 may be more open to different ideas than older businesspeople who worked during the Communist regime. Therefore, it is imperative that you treat each person as an individual and be prepared to modify your style to match the profile of the person with whom you are dealing.
The Role of a Manager
Cross cultural sensitivity is necessary. It is a good idea not to chastise employees publicly. Croatians are often very career-focused and will work exceedingly hard to achieve their goals. If you need to correct behavior, find something to compliment first and then gently mention the behavior you wish the subordinate to change.
Approach to Change
Croatia’s intercultural adaptability and readiness for change is improving although changes are still made slowly, requiring a considerable amount of thought, planning and evaluation.
Cross cultural sensitivity is important with Croatia’s attitude toward risk dramatically impacted by the negative ramifications of failure on both the individual and the group.
Approach to Time and Priorities
Croatia is a moderate time culture and there may be some flexibility to strict adherence to schedules and deadlines. Nevertheless, the expectations of global business have caused the people from Croatia to adopt relatively strict standards of adhering to schedules.
When working with people from Croatia, it’s advisable to reinforce the importance of the agreed-upon deadlines and how that may affect the rest of the organization.
Successful cross cultural management will depend on the individual’s ability to provide and meet deadlines.
Since this is a hierarchical culture, decisions are often made at the top of the company. Even though managers may not be involved in making decisions, they may give the impression of having been consulted when relaying information to their subordinates.
In general, the standards of education and technical competence are relatively high. Perhaps as a holdover from the communist era, older employees may prefer not to admit to a mistake. If an error is brought to their attention, they often blame it on outside influences.
Boss or Team Player?
In post communist countries, there is a tradition of teamwork inherited from the communal aspects of the previous era where groups and work units commonly met together to discuss ideas and create plans. However, those plans seldom resulted in implementation or results, leading to apathy and cynicism among the workers.
Today the after-effects are still evident among much of the older generation resulting in a lack of drive and energy. However, there is vibrancy among the younger generation, who seem to be eager to tackle many of the challenges and take the opportunities presented. They will participate in teams and share ideas, but they will need to be coached in the process.
Communication and Negotiation Styles
It may take several meetings for your Croatian business colleagues to warm up and drop their veneer of reserve and formality. Take time developing personal relationships; this will facilitate your business ones. A degree of cross cultural adaptability is necessary. Remember that business is conducted slowly; there is a great deal of red tape to get through and that Croatians are not straight forward to deal with. They often say things in a roundabout fashion. Politeness prevents many Croatians from giving an irrefutable "no" and phrases such as "It is difficult" or "We will see" are often negative responses.
Links and Information about Croatia
* Currency - the currency of Croatia is the Kuna (HRK). Use the free currency converter to compare to dollars, GBP or Euro.
* Weather - visit Yahoo!'s up to date Weather for the Croatia.
* News - check out all the latest news from Croatia.
* Dialing Code - the international dialing code is +385.
* Time - Croatia is +1 hours GMT.
* History - read about the long and rich Croatian history.
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