Facts and Statistics
Location: Central Europe, eastern Alps bordering the Adriatic Sea, between Austria and Croatia
Climate: Mediterranean climate on the coast, continental climate with mild to hot summers and cold winters in the plateaus and valleys to the east
Population: 2,009,245 (July 2007 est.)
Ethnic Make-up: Slovene 83.1%, Serb 2%, Croat 1.8%, Bosniak 1.1%, other or unspecified 12% (2002 census)
Religions: Catholic 57.8%, Muslim 2.4%, Orthodox 2.3%, other Christian 0.9%, unaffiliated 3.5%, other or unspecified 23%, none 10.1% (2002 census)
Government: parliamentary republic
Language in Slovenia
Slovene or Slovenian is an Indo-European language that belongs to the family of South Slavic languages. It is spoken by approximately 2 million speakers worldwide, naturally the majority of whom live in Slovenia. Slovene is one of the few languages to have preserved the dual grammatical number from Proto-Indo-European. Also, Slovene and Slovak are the two modern Slavic languages whose names for themselves literally mean "Slavic". Slovene is one of the official languages of the European Union.
Although the country is relatively small, there are over 32 different dialects spoken, which can be grouped into 7 larger dialect segments. The diversity in language is due to the influences of neighbouring countries as well as the mountainous nature of the country, which has led to isolated language development.
Slovenian People, Society and Culture
The Role of Religion
Over half the population is Roman Catholic, although there are approximately 38 religious groups or sects officially registered within Slovenia. The Office for Religious Communities maintains a list of active religious communities. There are a large number of Evangelical Lutherans residing near the Hungarian border. Those who call themselves Catholic are very heterogeneous, with very few adhering to all the precepts of the church. In fact, the majority are quite selective in what aspects they follow and often combine their religious beliefs with secular beliefs.
Despite the secularism of many people, many public holidays are also religious in nature.
The family is at the centre of the social structure. However, over time this is changing. Only a decade ago, one could find several generations living together; nowadays not only are young people moving away but families are splitting due to a move to urban centres. Nonetheless, the family itself remains strong.
Slovenians sense of “home” is also very strong. As a rule, when they are not working, they embark on home based activities such as gardening projects (a visitor will notice that having flowers around the house is something of an art form in cities) or renovation. They see their home and its surroundings as an extension of themselves. People take care to sweep their paths and ensure that the streets remain free of litter and parks are well-maintained.
A Polycentric Culture
Slovenia has a polycentric culture. This means people will go out of their way to change their natural behaviour to mirror that of the person with whom they are interacting. So for example, Slovenians are naturally indirect communicators but can moderate their behaviour when dealing with people who come from cultures where more direct communication is the norm.
This ease of adaptation makes Slovenes easy to work with, although it also makes it somewhat difficult to know exactly what to expect when dealing with people since some may be more adept at moderating their behaviour than others.
Culture, Customs and Etiquette
Meeting and Greeting
Gift Giving Etiquette
If you are invited to a Slovenian’s house:
Business Protocol in Slovenia
Slovenians are egalitarian, yet interestingly their natural communication style tends to be indirect. However, at the same time their polycentricity means they are willing to adapt their communication style to the person with whom they are conversing.
They prefer to communicate indirectly with people whom they do not know well. This can be demonstrated by offering vague, roundabout, or non-committed explanations rather than offer a negative response. They tend to prefer non-confrontational business dealings when possible. This means that even when giving a straightforward response, they will generally proceed cautiously rather than hurt another person’s feelings.
Business decisions are often based on personal sentiments about the other person. Therefore, it is a good idea to spend time in relationship building.
Slovenians admire modesty and humility in business associates. They dislike people who boast about their accomplishments and achievements.
Slovenians are naturally soft-spoken and do not raise their voices when conversing. They are also polite, courteous, and respectful of others. They do not interrupt a speaker, preferring to wait for their turn to enter the conversation. They are very tolerant of differences and view it as rude behaviour to publicly criticize or complain about people.
Although Slovenians have a good sense of humour, they do not always understand self-deprecating humour. Be cautious when teasing others, as such behaviour may be interpreted as putting them down.
Meetings typically start after a brief period of social chit chat. Make sure this is not rushed as it is all part of the relationship building process. Although not a relationship-driven culture in the classic sense, Slovenes prefer to do business with those they know and trust. When meeting with a company for the first time, this period of social interchange may be somewhat extended so that your Slovene colleagues get the opportunity to learn something about you as a person and make judgments about your character.
Expect your Slovene business colleagues to be somewhat reserved and formal initially. It may take several meetings to establish a sense of rapport and relaxed attitude between people. The Slovene business culture is a mix of German efficiency and Italian gusto for life; however, this second attribute is not always readily apparent. It takes time for Slovenes to shed their reserve, although they generally do, especially after a few glasses of wine.
Business decision-making processes are often based on hierarchy, and many decisions are still reached at the highest echelons of the company. Final decisions tend to be translated into comprehensive action plans that are followed explicitly.
When meeting with peers or in teams, Slovenes’ egalitarianism is apparent. The hierarchy is relatively flat. Although the team leader is considered to be the expert, all members are deemed to have something to contribute. With a culture based on tolerance, disagreements are based on different interpretation of information. Actual decisions may be based more on personal viewpoints than concrete facts.
Being a Manager in Slovenia
The business set up in Slovenia is egalitarian. In order to achieve successful cross cultural management, it is important to treat everyone with respect and deference. This is a culture that frowns upon people who think that they are better than someone else. Status, when achieved, is based upon personal accomplishments rather than social class. It is a good idea to avoid "hard sell" techniques and hyperbole.
As in other egalitarian cultures, positions of authority are generally earned on the basis on individual achievement and employees may aspire to those positions while respecting authority.
The Role of a Manager
The management style in Slovenia is an interesting combination of German efficiency and Italian enjoyment of life. The people are polycentric, which means that they will change their style to mirror that of the people with whom they are meeting. Therefore, the behavior you observe may be an attempt to do what the Slovenes think will make you comfortable rather than their natural behavior.
As a rule, Slovenians are polite and reserved in their business dealings, at least until a personal relationship has been developed. Slovenian culture places a premium on punctuality and meeting deadlines. Although they may spend time getting to know you, this will not overshadow the business at hand. Successful cross cultural managers will be able harness the talent of the individuals for the benefit of the organization.
Approach to Change
Slovenia’s intercultural adaptability and readiness for change is developing all the time. Slovenia is seen to have a medium tolerance for change and risk. It is important for innovations to have a track record or history noting the benefits if they are to be accepted and implemented.
The fear of exposure, and the potential of embarrassment that may accompany failure, brings about aversion to risk. Because of this attitude, intercultural sensitivity is going to be required, especially when conducting group meetings and discussing contributions made my participating individuals.
Approach to Time and Priorities
Slovenia is a controlled-time culture, and adherence to schedules is important and expected. In Slovenia missing a deadline is a sign of poor management and inefficiency, and will shake people’s confidence. People in controlled-time cultures tend to have their time highly scheduled, and it’s generally a good idea to provide and adhere to performance milestones.
Since Slovenians respect schedules and deadlines, it is not unusual for managers to expect people to work late and even give up weekends in order to meet target deadlines. Effective cross cultural management skill will depend on the individual’s ability to meet deadlines.
For effective cross cultural management it is important to remember that in general, decisions are made by the person who has overall responsibility for the issue. Depending upon their personal style, some will consult with trusted advisers while others will not.
Since the culture prizes individualism, staff is generally allowed a great deal of leeway in how they meet deadlines. The important fact is that deadlines must be met. To facilitate meeting deadlines, managers try to guarantee that their subordinates have the proper materials to do their jobs.
Boss or Team Player
Despite their focus on individualism, Slovenes can work well in teams when members are selected based upon skills and knowledge. Role allocation is generally clearly defined.
Successful cross cultural management will depend on the individual’s ability to harness the talent of the group assembled, and develop any resulting synergies. The leader will be deferred to as the final authority in any decisions that are made, but they do not dominate the discussion or generation of ideas. Praise should be given to the entire group as well as to individuals.
Communication and Negotiation Styles
Do not sit until you are invited to do so. A small amount of getting-to-know-you conversation may take place before the business conversation begins. The time orientation tends to be focused on short-term profitability, although long-term relationships are also important. Slovenians are indirect communicators and are reluctant to speak ill of others. Avoid confrontational behavior or high-pressure tactics. It can be counterproductive. Negotiations are usually reserved and polite. Business can be conducted slowly or at break-neck speed, depending upon the organizational culture. If there is a strict adherence to protocol, it is important that you are patient.
Slovenia related links and resources
* Currency - the currency of Slovenia is the Tolar (SIT). Use the free currency converter to compare to dollars, GBP, etc.
* Weather - visit Yahoo!'s up to date Weather for Slovenia.
* Dialling Code - the international dialling code for Slovenia is +386.
* Time - Slovenia is +1 GMT.
* Hotels - for accomodation see Hotel Reservations in Slovenia.
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