Facts and Statistics
Location: Eastern Europe, bordering Belarus 502 km, Latvia 453 km, Poland 91 km, Russia (Kaliningrad) 227 km
Population: 3,607,899 (July 2004 est.)
Ethnic Make-up: Lithuanian 80.6%, Russian 8.7%, Polish 7%, Belarusian 1.6%, other 2.1%
Religions: Roman Catholic (primarily), Lutheran, Russian Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical Christian Baptist, Muslim, Jewish
Language in Lithuania
Since 1991, the official language of Lithuania is the Baltic language of Lithuanian, a language closely related to Latvian. More than 80% of the country's 3.8m population speaks Lithuanian as their first language. Minority languages include Belarusian (1.5%), Polish (7.7%), Russian (8%). Others, most notably Ukrainian and Yiddish make up a further 2.1%.
Lithuanian Culture & Society
.The family is the centre of the social structure.
.The obligation to family is a person's first priority.
.Together with religion, the family forms the basis around which all other parts of life revolve.
The Role of Religion
.The Roman Catholic Church has great influence on daily life.
.The Catholic Church helped preserve the county's identity during the Soviet Union years.
.The church's influence on the culture is seen in Lithuanian festivals, many of which are religious observances as well as in the celebration of name days rather than birthdays.
.The church's influence is manifests in the respect for hierarchical relationships.
Customs and Etiquette in Lithuania
Meeting and Greeting
The most common greeting is the handshake, with direct eye contact, and a smile.
.Once a relationship has been established, greetings may become more unreserved and include a hug.
.Wait for your Lithuanian friends to determine when your friendship has reached this level of intimacy.
.People are addressed by their honorific title and their surname. Wait until invited before moving to a first name basis.
Gift Giving Etiquette
.If invited to a Lithuanian's home, bring wine, flowers, or sweets to the hostess.
.Give an odd number of flowers.
.Do not give chrysanthemums - they are used in funerals.
.Do not give white flowers - they are reserved for weddings.
.Gifts are generally opened when received.
.Table manners are quite relaxed in Lithuania.
.Wait to be told where to sit.
.Table manners are Continental - hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
.Always keep your hands visible when eating. Keep your wrists resting on the edge of the table.
.Take small amounts of food initially so you may accept second helpings.
.Napkins are kept on the table, not on the lap.
.To indicate you have not finished eating, cross your knife and fork on your plate.
.When you have finished eating, place your knife and fork across your plate with the prongs facing down and the handles facing to the right.
.The host offers the first toast.
.Toasting is generally done with hard liquor and not wine or beer.
.You should reciprocate with your own toast later in the meal.
Business Etiquette and Protocol
When conducting business, err on the side of formality and adhere to conservative etiquette and protocol.
.There are marked differences between young entrepreneurs and older businesspeople.
.Younger businesspeople generally have a less bureaucratic approach and are eager to do what is required to close a deal.
Building Relationships & Communication
.Lithuanians prefer face-to-face meetings, as they need to build relationships of mutual understanding.
.They prefer to turn business relationships into friendships.
.Accept offers of hospitality and reciprocate, as this is the sign of a true friend.
.Once a friendship has developed, Lithuanians are willing to discuss business.
.It is important to make your initial contact with a high-ranking person who is in a position to make a decision.
.In many ways this is still a hierarchical culture, so showing respect and deference to people of authority is recommended.
.Although they are industrious and hard working, most Lithuanians are very modest. People who brag are deemed arrogant.
.At the same time, Lithuanians are impressed by titles of authority and advanced university degrees, so it is a good idea to let them know your status within your company.
.Lithuanians speak softly.
.They are not particularly emotive speakers.
.They do not touch others while speaking and can appear standoffish and reserved upon the initial meeting.
.It is important that you do not display anger, even if frustrated by the excessive bureaucracy.
.They do not interrupt others while they are speaking, and patiently wait for their turn.
.Many Lithuanian companies adhere to a hierarchical structure. In such cases, senior-level businessmen only speak with people of their same rank.
.More junior members of a team should not address a senior-ranking Lithuanian businessperson directly, as it is seen as a breach of etiquette.
Business Meetings & Negotiations
.Appointments are necessary and should be scheduled 2 to 3 weeks in advance.
.Send a list of the people who will be attending and their titles so the Lithuanians can assemble a team of similar level people.
.Confirm the meeting when you arrive and again the day before the meeting, since meetings are sometimes cancelled on short notice.
.Arrive on time for meetings. Punctuality is important.
.Meetings are formal.
.There will be a period of small-talk while your colleagues get to know you and decide if you are the type of person with whom they wish to enter into a business relationship.
.Wait to be told where to sit. In many cases you will be seated across from someone of a similar level.
.Presentations should be thorough, clear, and concise and include back-up analysis to support your position.
.Expect to discuss each point thoroughly before moving on to the next.
.Business moves slowly due to the bureaucratic nature of society.
.Be prepared to meet with several lower levels of people before getting to the actual decision maker.
.Lithuanians often use time as a tactic, especially if they know that you have a deadline. Be cautious about letting your business colleagues know that you are under time pressure or they will delay even more.
.Lithuanians will not be rushed into making a deal. They must think it is in their best interest before agreeing.
.Meetings often conclude with a summary of the discussion and a toast to future dealings.
Being a Manager in Lithuania
Business in Lithuania is undergoing a transition as the country adopts a free market system. To ensure successful cross cultural management, it is best to err on the side of formality and adhere to conservative etiquette and protocol. There are marked differences between young entrepreneurs and older businesspeople. Younger businesspeople generally have a less bureaucratic approach.
There are an abundance of institutions that regulate business practices in Lithuania. To successfully conduct business you will have to navigate a myriad of rules and regulations.
The Role of a Manager
Successful intercultural management is more likely to be achieved with some knowledge and understanding of Lithuania’s history. Management in countries of the former Soviet Union is a complex, constantly evolving state-of-affairs, each country moving towards a market economy (with its’ accompanying protocols) at a different pace.
The transition to a free-market economy has brought about remarkable, but not wholesale changes in the business culture. Generally, among the older generation, you will find deference to authority, coupled with a sense of loyalty and a detached attitude for meeting objectives and goals of the company. Among younger workers, however, you’ll find an eagerness to explore the new opportunities that the market has to offer.
Approach to Change
Lithuania’s intercultural adaptability and readiness for change is developing all the time. This country is seen to have a medium tolerance for change and risk.
The fear of exposure and the potential of embarrassment that may accompany failure means cross cultural sensitivity is going to be required. Failure can be viewed as a personal short-coming and can cause a long-term loss of confidence by the individual as well as by the group.
Approach to Time and Priorities
Lithuania is a moderate time culture and typically there may be some flexibility to strict adherence to schedules and deadlines.
When working with people from Lithuania, in order to achieve successful cross cultural management, it is advisable to reinforce the importance of the agreed-upon. Global and intercultural expansion means that some managers may have a greater appreciation of the need to enforce timescales and as such, agreed deadlines are more likely to be met.
In businesses that retain a strong hierarchical structure, managers tend to be autocratic. They expect their subordinates to follow standard procedures without question. In such companies, getting things accomplished is often a matter of knowing the right people who can then help circumvent the bureaucracy. In more entrepreneurial companies, individual initiative is prized and managers expect subordinates to work out the best course of action according to the current situation.
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 intercultural sensitivity will be needed and it should be understood that they will need to be coached in the process.
Communication and Negotiation Styles
There is a drive to avoid criticism, which can lead Lithuanians to avoid taking responsibility or making decisions. Most decisions require several layers of approval. Committees often reach decisions in an attempt to distribute both the responsibility and the blame. Lithuanians often use time delays as a tactic to pressure the other party during negotiations, especially if they know that you have a deadline. Be cautious about letting your business colleagues know that you are under time pressure or they will delay even more. Perhaps as a holdover from the Communist regime, older Lithuanians have a tendency to tell foreign business people what they think they want to hear so some cross cultural adaptability is necessary. Lithuanians will not be rushed into making a deal. They must think it is in their best interest before agreeing. Lithuanians prefer detailed contracts.
Useful Information and Links about Lithuania
* Currency - the currency of Lithuania is known as the Litas. Use the free currency converter to compare to dollars, GBP or Euro.
* Weather - visit Yahoo!'s up to date Weather for Lithuania.
* News - check out all the latest Google news on Lithuania.
* Dialling Code - the international dialling code for Lithuania is +370.
* Time - Lithuania is +2 hours GMT.
* History - read about the long and rich history of Lithuania.
information provided by www.kwintessential.co.uk