Doing business in Bulgaria

Bulgarians are truly talented multitaskers. It is therefore quite normal for them to do several things at the same time in joint meetings and negotiations.

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Interruptions are the order of the day; calls are made, and emails sent during a meeting. Your meeting can easily run longer than planned.

You should not view this behavior as disrespect or discourtesy but should simply acknowledge that your Bulgarian business partners are polychronistically doing several things at the same time.

Hierarchies in Bulgarian companies

Even if there is a tendency to delegate more and more responsibility to well-trained teams, the decision-making power in generally highly hierarchical Bulgarian companies still usually lies with the company owner. Specialist experts are consulted by the management – albeit very extensively – for advice only, but rarely included in the decision-making process.

In negotiations and in binational project work, foreign executives must therefore always ensure that they are communicating with the right contacts. Conversely, it is a matter of courtesy to connect Bulgarian top managers only with foreign managers of the same hierarchical level.

 

The time factor in joint project management

Deadlines or dates that are in the distant future are rarely met by Bulgarians who take a relaxed and prudent approach to their work. “Why put your shoulder to the wheel in May when delivery is not due until December? So much could happen in the meantime.”

The more precise timetables drawn up by many foreign partners, which often even include a Plan B in the event of difficulties, are rather meaningless to many Bulgarians. They are, however, masters at improvising. When something needs to be done quickly, all available resources inside and outside the company will be mobilized. Using their creative ingenuity, Bulgarians will then deliver a finished project in the desired time – much to the surprise and satisfaction of the foreign partners, who were biting their nails with worry that the project was not going to be completed in time.

 

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