World Cup 2018 Group B

World Cup Cultures – Group B

We compiled these brief country profiles with the help of Country Navigator – an online and mobile platform that prepares executives and assignees on how to work and adapt culturally in over 100 countries. It combines assessments, country content and a range of e-learning modules. Contact us to find out how your organization can benefit from using Country Navigator.

🇵🇹 Portugal

Portugal CN ProfileBeing able to establish strong personal and business relationships is critical to the success of your business endeavor.
Contracts may change even after signing. Verbal promises may be vague and may not be kept.
Meetings are conducted at a casual, unhurried pace. Don’t get right down to business. Engage in conversation first. Agendas are often ignored.
Portugal is a multicultural society and by nature, the people are tolerant and hard to offend. They may, however, appear politically incorrect at times.
Flexibility is required for deadlines, expectations and the following or breaking of rules.
The Portuguese are indirect communicators and it is important to learn to read between the lines.
The Portuguese enjoy flowery language and eloquence in speech. A good storyteller is respected.
Status is often more important than salary. Academic titles are frequently used.
Status should not, however, be discussed and nor should somebody’s salary, a strictly taboo subject.
Despite their mild-mannered appearance, the Portuguese are tough and cunning negotiators.

🇪🇸 Spain

Spain CN ProfileFoster personal relationships. It may take time and patience but this is imperative in Spain. Business will be won only after trust is established and character verified.
Socialize outside work. Business will frequently be done over a late lunch or dinner.
Understand Spanish time. The Spanish have a different concept of time; flexibility is key. Schedules are treated as guidelines and meetings may overrun.
Respect the hierarchy. Decisions are made at the top and information might not filter down.
Read between the lines. The Spanish are a proud nation. They do not like to admit they are wrong or do not understand. Learn to interpret body language.
Dress to impress. Impressions are important and you will be judged on appearance. Aim for smart and stylish.
Do business in person. Face-to-face contact is preferred to email or telephone communication.
Learn about ‘face’. Saving ‘face’ is important in Spain and a key to establishing the all-important personal relationships.
Speak the language. Not all Spanish business people speak English so establish whether or not a translator is required. Be aware of regional language differences; in Barcelona, meetings may be conducted in Catalán.
Embrace emotions. The Spanish are passionate and many emotions come into play when making a decision. Objectivity may be over-ruled by subjective issues.

🇲🇦 Morocco

Morocco CN ProfileLearn to appreciate the importance of courtesy to Moroccans. They have a strong sense of respect for themselves, their parents and elders, as well as their superiors in the workplace. Moroccans are taught to be considerate and polite to everybody they meet.
Family comes before work and the group comes before the individual. Close friends are often considered to be extended family and Moroccans tend to form relationships that last a long time. This applies to business as well as personal life. Trust and honor are very important in business culture.
Appreciate the differences between Moroccans and other Arabs; they see themselves as the bridge between North Africa and Europe and are heavily influenced in particular by France.
A personal sense of honor is probably the most important thing a Moroccan possesses and they will do everything to preserve this.
Moroccans will work hard to earn the respect of others, as the impression they make is very important to them.
The vast majority of Moroccans are Sunni Muslims, a fact which unites people in the workplace as well as socially. Build time into the day for prayer breaks and schedule meetings around prayer times. By all means travel in Morocco during Ramadan but time meetings very carefully. Bear in mind that negotiations are rarely conducted during Ramadan.
Decision-making is slow and comes from the top, so learn to be patient and not rush your counterpart.
Moroccans have a relaxed approach to timekeeping and may arrive late for meetings. Visitors, however, are expected to be on time.
Moroccans operate an open door policy and a meeting may easily be interrupted several times. It is important to remain patient if this happens.
Young Moroccans do not come from a culture of personal empowerment, as most companies are managed in a fairly authoritarian manner. It may, therefore, be difficult to identify team leaders among a group.
Business entertaining is a very important part of commercial life and of the getting to know you process. Accept invitations and return the gesture.

🇮🇷 Iran

Iran CN ProfileNever call Iranians Arabs – they are different culturally, ethnologically and linguistically.
Do not refer to the Gulf as the ‘Arabian Gulf’ but the ‘Persian Gulf‘.
Understand the concept of taroof so that when it is addressed at you, you know how to reciprocate. For example, when buying something in a shop the shopkeeper insists you take the item as a gift. This is taroof. You should, of course, pay for the item but he will insist several times on refusing money, claiming to be unworthy.
Iranians are extremely formal and it will take many meetings before a relationship can be established – and only then can business be done.
Despite this formality, a sense of shared history, friendship and trust is essential before business can be done.
Many Iranians have had prolonged exposure to the west, living or studying abroad. In these cases, the cultural differences may be less.
Be aware of the role of women in society. Do not try to shake hands with an Iranian woman. Do not question the fact that women work, study and eat separately, or remain veiled in public and in offices.
Some Iranians have a tendency to be lazy; there is often a sense of entitlement, of expecting to earn a lot of money without making much effort.
Be careful what you say and to whom. Punishments are severe for criticizing the state.
Attend functions for networking purposes – but remember, alcohol is illegal in Iran. Government employees will usually only attend functions on ‘neutral’ territory – a restaurant, for example.


To learn more about the other 28 cultures represented at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, go back to the main article on this topic.

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