Cultural Considerations When Doing Business In Argentina

Author:Mr Claudio Cirocco
Profession:TMF Group

Argentina is a huge country; eighth largest in the world and second largest in Latin America. As the second largest economy in the region, it's a hive of industry and an attraction for tourism and trade alike.

Many of today's population are descended from the wave of European immigration in the 19th and 20th century, particularly from Spain and Italy. As a result, Spanish is the official language of Argentina and it is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world.

Cultural traditions are many and varied - many of them European in origin. The arts scene is particularly vibrant, and Argentina is known for its energising dances, notably the tango.

A good understanding of the underlying values and beliefs of local culture, and how they can affect doing business in Argentina, is vital to the success of your ventures there. Local help and guidance can be invaluable, and some of the following tips should prove useful.

First impressions count

Be punctual for business appointments, but be prepared to wait, especially if you are meeting an important person. Decisions are made at the top so try to arrange meetings at the highest level, usually several weeks in advance. Face-to-face meetings are the crux of successful business in Argentina, where telephone discussion or written communication is viewed as overly impersonal. There are few titles in Argentina. In a formal situation, it's best to address individuals by their professional degree, such as 'Doctor' or 'Professor'. You can also use titles out of respect, according to gender, 'Señor' for men; 'Señora' for older or married women, 'Señorita' for a young or single woman.

Meeting etiquette

Guests at a meeting are usually greeted and escorted to their chairs, with visitors seated in order of seniority opposite their Argentinian counterpart. Greeting in a formal context is usually with a handshape, maintaining eye contact. The oldest or most senior associate tends to be greeted first. Informally, Argentinians usually keep close physical contact when speaking to someone. Reaching over and touching someone's shoulder is a sign of friendship, and greeting with a kiss and brief hug, regardless of gender, is usual when meeting family or acquaintances. Be prepared for a certain amount of small talk before getting down to business. Jumping straight into business conversation is viewed as impolite. Good topics for discussion include sport, particularly football, or entertainment, such as films or...

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