Behind The Scenes of Doing Business in Lithuania

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You might not be able to locate Lithuania on a map, which is why it may surprise you to learn that this small Baltic nation is now one of the fastest developing economies in Europe. In fact, the World Bank’s Doing Business 2014 report claims that Lithuania is the 11th easiest nation in which to start a business and ranks 17th overall for ease of conducting business. Considering all of this, it’s no wonder that Lithuania is considered a Baltic Tiger standing on the cusp of greatness.

With a population of just under 3 million people, Lithuania has distinguished itself as a business and technology powerhouse. This is no small feat — especially when you consider the fact that it only entered the free market economy with the collapse of Soviet Union in 1990. Since the early 2000s, Lithuania has experienced unprecedented economic growth and was among the few European nations to maintain a positive GDP during the 2008 economic crisis. In the wake of this economic growth, Lithuania has enjoyed a rapid influx of both start-ups and established organizations looking to expand their reach in the Baltic region.

If you have the opportunity to do business in Lithuania, or in the Baltics in general, consider yourself lucky, but be aware of potential challenges — particularly those that arise from cultural and work style differences. See below for a few useful tips from CultureWizard’s Country Profile for Lithuania for navigating the business culture.

1. Be mindful of formality. Lithuanians are generally friendly to foreigners in business settings, but prefer to keep things formal, at least initially. Be prepared to make introductions in order of rank and use titles and last names until invited to do otherwise.

2. Lithuanians are considered the “Latins” of the Baltics. However, this doesn’t mean they’re emotive speakers. It really means that they’re a little more expressive than their Latvian and Estonian counterparts. That said, they don’t often interrupt others while speaking and consider it rude if others do. Make sure to listen carefully to others when they speak, consider what is being said, and then carefully respond at the appropriate time.

3. Lithuania is somewhat group-oriented. They will often identify themselves first as part of a group, then as an individual. Lithuanians may be uncomfortable if too much focus is placed on them individually. When delivering praise, make sure you include the entire group so as not to make someone feel singled-out or embarrassed.

4. Lithuanians are showing signs of greater risk tolerance. Bear in mind that culture is a living organism that evolves over time. Many of your Lithuanian colleagues may have first hand experience living under a totalitarian regime, and may be more apprehensive about taking risks and the introduction of change in general. Younger Lithuanians do tend to be less risk averse, but perhaps not at levels you’d find in, for example, North America. When presenting changes, be thorough and support your ideas with measurable facts. Demonstrate that you’ve made considerable thought about any changes to policy and show how they’ll improve the team or the business.

Do you have experience working in Lithuania or other Baltic nations? What differences did you experience between Baltic cultures and your own? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.