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Can 

Central and Eastern European
management 
compete? 

Business in CEE 20 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain
How senior expatriate managers view management culture today in
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia

A study by TARGET International Executive Search
and Henley Business School 
Sponsors 
TARGET International Executive Search                            www.targetfuture.com   

TARGET International Executive Search is one of the leading executive search firms in the CEE
region, with offices in Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
TARGET is a member of the INAC worldwide partnership of independent executive search firms
(www.inac-global.com) – one of the top 5 networks in Europe and 14th in the world. TARGET is the
sponsor of this study and coordinated the collection of data in all six countries of this survey and
managed publication and distribution of this report.

Henley Business School                                                                            www.henley.reading.ac.uk 

Henley is one of the UK’s top business schools, with its full time MBA being ranked 5th in the UK by
the Financial Times and 20th worldwide by the Economist Intelligence Unit. It has long been
recognised as a leader in distance learning and this mode of its MBA was ranked 6th in the world by the
EIU. Henley Business School became part of the University of Reading in 2008.

 
Authors 
Clive Viegas Bennett                                                                                       bennett@adcapita.com 

Clive is a founding Partner of Ad Capita Executive Search (www.adcapita.com), one of Portugal’s


leading headhunting firms and also a member of the INAC network. He was formerly Managing
Director of an international shipping company in Lisbon and before that a senior official of the House
of Commons in London. He has an MBA from Cranfield School of Management and an MA in
Psychology and Philosophy from Oxford University. He was lead author for the previous expatriate
studies carried out in Portugal and Ireland, as well as of other studies and numerous articles.

Chris Brewster                                                                             c.j.brewster@henley.reading.ac.uk 

Chris Brewster is Professor of International Human Resource Management at Henley and has
previously held professorial chairs at other leading universities. He was formerly Human Resources
Director of a major UK company. He is a world authority on international human resource management
and advises a number of major global companies and institutions. He is the author of numerous
academic articles and several books in this field. He holds a BSc in economics and a PhD in human
resource management.
CEE senior expatriate management survey 

CONTENTS 

Executive summary  2 

Introduction  3 

Findings ‐ context  6 
History and change  6 
Country differences  7 
Comparison with the views of local managers  8 

Findings – the region as a whole  9 
Sociability and the unexpected  9 
Customer orientation  9 
Organisation, responsibility and leadership  10 
Bureaucracy and corruption  11 
Women managers  13 
Working with other cultures  13 
The positive  14 

Findings – country analyses  15 
Bulgaria  15 
Czech Republic  17 
Hungary  18 
Poland  20 
Romania  21 
Slovakia  22 

Conclusions  23 

Analysis of responses  25 
General social and business environment  26 
Management style  32 
Managers and the market  40 
Transparency and cross cultural issues  45 

Appendix 1 – Responses to questionnaire  48 

Appendix 2 – Ranking of questions  50 

Appendix 3 – Expatriate vs. Local Comparison  51 

Appendix 4 – Information about respondents and methodology  52 
Demographic data  52 
Linguistic capabilities  53 
Methodology  53 

Appendix 5 – original questionnaire  54 

Appendix 6 – respondents’ additional comments  56 
Bulgaria  56 
Czech Republic  58 
Hungary  60 
Poland  62 
Romania  64 
Slovakia  65 
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Executive summary 
This survey of over nearly 1000 expatriate and 270 local managers in six Central and Eastern European countries,
concludes that CEE business culture has undergone an extraordinary transformation in only 20 years, in some
cases attaining levels of performance seen in Western European economies. However, managers are still not
customer focused, use formality to avoid taking responsibility, are not good with deadlines and are not active
enough in eliminating corruption and bureaucracy. Local managers agreed with these findings. If managers do not
deal with these problems then the businesses and economies of these countries will fall behind the rest of Europe.

Foreign senior managers working in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia were
questioned in an extensive survey carried out by leading headhunters TARGET International Executive Search,
together with Henley Business School, one of the UK’s top management schools. These managers agree that:

• CEE managers work very hard and are ambitious


• Foreigners clearly enjoy living and working in CEE countries
• The business environment is very active and dynamic
• Good personal relationships are essential to good business in CEE
• Women are definitively better managers than men
• In most CEE countries, managers prefer working in a planned, structured way

There are also important criticisms. In particular:

• Managers are too formal and do not like taking responsibility for their actions or their teams
• Businesses and their managers are not customer oriented and so customer service is very poor
• Managers are not efficient with time and do not take timetables and deadlines seriously
• Bureaucracy and corruption seriously hinder good business performance in the CEE region
• Young managers, while well-educated and dynamic, tend to be arrogant and mercenary
• Good managers are very hard to find.

The key recommendation is that managers themselves must take personal responsibility for using the positive
aspects to change the negative ones: it has to be an individual commitment by them and not a magic solution from
governments or politicians that will solve these problems.

There was considerable variation among the different countries. Expatriates’ key country specific findings and
rankings among the six (best to worst):

  Rank  Positive  Negative 

Poland  1st  Most dynamic and entrepreneurial, least Most formal in communication. Status-
corrupt in business, best with customers. based, autocratic leadership style.

Slovakia  2nd  Least bureaucratic. Most cooperative and Least entrepreneurial spirit. Too formal,
flexible. Loyal. avoid responsibility.

Czech Republic  3rd  Most planned. Best place to live for Worst at personal relationships and humour.
expatriates. Cooperative, meet deadlines. Inflexible, too formal.

Romania  4th  Most hardworking and ambitious. Best with Most overpaid managers. Disorganised, poor
foreigners and other cultures. teamwork. Planning weak.

Hungary  5th  Most informal, best at personal Worst at accepting criticism. Least dynamic
relationships. Creative problem-solving. and ambitious. Not good with foreigners.

Bulgaria  6th  Biggest difference between female and male Most corrupt, worst planning, organisation,
managers. Good social skills. Strong will to teamwork and customer service.
change and acceptance of criticism.


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CEE senior expatriate management survey 

Can Central and Eastern European management 
compete? 

“There are good people available but you have to look hard to find them. Then you have to
work hard to develop and keep them. It is possible but it takes time and patience.” [Irish
manager in the Czech Republic]

“I was impressed by the technical skills of the Polish managers and equally disappointed by
their interpersonal skills.” [French manager]

“I do love living in Slovakia and have a great passion for the people. However, in my
organization and the region I live, it is for sure not the best place to make business.”
[Brazilian manager]

“Bulgarians are friendly and very pleasant people, but doing business is slow and frustrating.”
[British manager]

“This country has a lot of potential. However, there is no significant political decision in
order to boost efficiently the economy of Romania.” [French manager]

“I believe that there is a lot of business potential in Hungary – that’s why I'm here...Hungary
is getting into a new economic era and it’s time to wake-up.” [Canadian manager]

“This survey is a great idea, I am curious to see the differences with other countries in the area
- and I hope people take it as positive criticism, an opportunity to improve.” [Dutch]

Introduction 

The most iconic events in Europe during the last half century have almost all occurred in and around
the CEE region: the ruthless crushing of the Hungarian uprising and the Prague Spring, the intoxicating
hope of Solidarity in the 1980s
and the fall of the Berlin wall,
the grim end of the Ceausescu
regime and the Velvet
Revolution in former
Czechoslovakia. Since those
dramatic times the changes have
been more prosaic but no less
momentous for the lives of the
ordinary citizens of the countries
on which we are focusing:
Bulgaria, Czech Republic,

3  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. This region is culturally, historically and politically the
richest, most complex, most energetic and certainly the least boring in the world.

We are of course especially interested in the changes which affect management culture but the truth is
that everything does – the switch from planned to market economies; the political, social and cultural
transformation of countries so long frozen under the cold weight of Soviet power; the new freedom not
only to create culture, ideas and business but also to steal, suborn and intimidate; educational turmoil
and readjustment; enormous movements of people, goods and capital. The list goes on.

In economic terms, accession to the European


Basic country facts 
Union has undoubtedly been the most Source: Economist Intelligence Unit
 
important event since the end of communism.
  Population GDP per head  Real GDP 
The EU brings huge opportunities: open (million)  (USD ‘000 ppp,  growth 
2007)  (Av. 2003‐7)
markets and the end of frontiers for people,
Bulgaria  7.6  11.4  6.1% 
goods and capital. It also brings new
Czech 
Republic  10.2  24.5  5.5% 
responsibilities with regard to economic,
political and judicial freedom and the control Hungary  10.0  19.2  3.7% 
of corruption. Finally, of course, there are Poland  38.1  16.3  5.1% 
threats. Open frontiers bring open pricing and Romania  21.5  11.4  6.3% 
the end of sustainable cheap wage
Slovakia  5.5  19.9  7.1% 
competition and the paramount need for more
substantial sources of competitive advantage. The intangible economic factors of production such as
education and knowledge are key to sustainable success in business (and in government, for that
matter), and none is more important than management culture.

There is still a shortage of good managers in this region. This is hardly surprising, as the skills and
education – however strong at a technical level – provided for the managers of a blindly plodding
planned economy are totally inappropriate to driving company strategy in a dynamic free market. As a
result, an entire generation of people above 45, raised under the old regime, is typically not considered
for key management positions. While the younger generation is excellently educated and hungry for
success, often even beating West-European peers, this talented pool cannot make up for an entire
generation gap. This so called “golden generation” has fully profited from the economic boom during
the last 20 years. They have experienced fast promotion “turbo careers”, which tended to spoil them
and led to new behavioural deficits. Careers being “too fast and too easy” and multinationals all
hunting for the same relatively few high potential managers, have often erased virtues like tolerance,
modesty and loyalty. The extraordinary buzz of excitement, a pioneer, gold rush energy, with GDP
growth well above the rest of the EU 1 has offered unique chances to most ambitious young managers
only available to very few in the older market economies.

1
GDP growth was 8.1% above the EU-25 average for the period 2001 to 2006. GDP per capita at PPS. Source -
UniCredit New Europe Research Network.


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Competition is becoming ever fiercer, with open frontiers and the breathtaking rise of China, India,
Brazil, Russia and other even newer players. Even so, competitiveness in CEE is improving and many
comments from respondents refer to the significant improvement in management culture during recent
years.

The results of this study will not be read with universal joy by the citizens in these countries –
foreigners often like to criticise and some of the criticisms expressed here are strong. However, the
underlying theme of this series of surveys is that only by exposing ourselves to the cold light of the
outside world can we see ourselves clearly in the mirror and understand where we need to improve. At
the very least, even if all these “damned foreigners” are wrong, there must be a really bad public
relations problem.

The survey necessarily carries its own cultural assumptions. For each of the questions posed, we
assume that we know which is the “better” or “worse” response. We believe, for example, that
openness, informality, customer focus, strategic clarity, minimal bureaucracy and zero corruption are
all good. This can be simplistic. There are important cultural differences which can be adapted
positively to business: a long, hearty lunch may well be a more effective way of doing business than a
sombre presentation of facts and figures; improvisation and last minute adaptation may sometimes be
more efficient than micro-planning for every eventuality. Nevertheless, there is good academic
evidence that the values underlying our assumptions are not only those of better management but also
lead businesses to provide higher sustainable returns to their shareholders.

While this is to a great extent a study of a region, there are also country specific issues and we do look,
at matters of particular significance in each of the six nations. They may have shared a similar
transition from planned to market economies but there are major differences of history, culture, social
structure, political development and economic resources and needs. After all, it is these differences
which make international business so enthralling: or, as the French say, Vive la différence!

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Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Findings ‐ context 

A full Analysis of Responses, from which the conclusions here were drawn, appears below 2 . Further
statistics from the survey appear in the Appendices.

History and change 

Expatriates – from any country, in any country – love to complain. So, the general picture painted by
this survey is refreshingly upbeat. Out of 44 questions, for top-ranked Poland only 14 responses were
negative and, even in Bulgaria at the bottom of the rankings, that figure rises to just over a half (23
questions).

This generally optimistic view is extraordinary when we consider the depth and speed of
transformation which has occurred in Central and Eastern Europe. Only 20 years ago, communist
management repudiated even the merest thought of customer orientation and teamwork was largely a
fiction: management decisions were mostly made on the basis of internal party or state organisational
requirements and the individualistic and usually corrupt maintenance of privilege and power. This
wilful incompetence was protected by ruthless oppression and irrational bureaucracy and was
communicated in mendacious language (“freedom loving”, “democratic”, “the workers united”, “will
of the people” and so on). Goods and services were often comically – tragically – deficient and
produced in catastrophically the wrong places and the wrong quantities. That was indeed a totally
different world, a parallel universe of sloth and untruth.

Now, with that dark past still vivid in the memory of all but the very youngest employees, CEE
managers have created vibrant and highly successful economies, with an energy and excitement that
has been lost in many Western European countries. Many of the comments made by respondents to our
survey are positive, even enthusiastic: “I have worked in 10 different countries so far - the Polish
employees belong to the most dynamic and ambitious people I have ever worked with”, said one
German manager. The most common thread is change, how mentality, culture and performance are
advancing. Even in Bulgaria, transformation is taking place: “Compared with [the mid 90s], much has
changed, but [there is] still plenty of room for further improvement,” commented a Dutch manager. As
we will discuss further, there is a big generation gap, as people educated after the fall of communism
enter the higher levels of management.

It is impossible to avoid superlatives, for the change that has taken place really is quite amazing and is
due entirely to the drive, persistence and self-belief of the people of Central and Eastern Europe. It is
humbling for those of us living in some of the peripheral countries of Europe such as Portugal, Ireland
and Greece to see that much of CEE has not only pretty well caught up with us but has done so in such
a short time, not even enough time for the generational change that had similarly transformed our

2
Page 25ff.


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economies. So, even before looking at the results in detail, we can conclude from the start not only that
can CEE countries compete, they are indeed already seriously competing with the world’s more
advanced economies.

Nevertheless, there is truly much to criticise or, more usefully, to improve. While the negative
responses may not be as numerous as one might expect, those that remain are acute and tend to lie at
the core of good business and management culture, while the positive responses are mainly concerned
with relationships and the business and social environment.

Country differences 

There are considerable


Country rankings                      
differences amongst the six       No. of questions at each rank    
nations. Looking at the rankings, Total 
      1st  2nd  3rd  4th  5th  6th  score 
the results range from Poland,
Best  Poland  17  11  7  2  6  1  204 
whose management culture is
   Slovakia  10  9  11  7  6  1  183 
readily comparable with many    Czech Republic  5  9  13  8  3  6  163 
Western European countries (for    Romania  6  8  3  9  15  3  148 
example Portugal and Ireland) 3 ,    Hungary  4  3  7  16  9  5  138 
to Bulgaria, which by all Worst  Bulgaria  2  4  3  2  5  28  88 
measures and the comments    Ranking is calculated by comparing mean responses to questions.  
   Scoring: 5 for 1st place, 4 for 2nd…0 for 6th.         
received needs a paradigm shift
to release itself from its communist period cultural mindset.

At the same time there are important common themes which are worth looking at over the whole
region. Looking at the ranking of questions by the degree to which responses are positive or negative is
useful here (see Appendix 2, page 50). For most questions the positioning is similar for each country
(for example, bureaucracy, customer service, teamwork, personal relationships) but some indicate some
deep underlying differences. The most extreme here is corruption in business – ranked as high in
Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania but moderate or low in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
There are also some items which seem to be particular to specific countries. Thus, for example,
managers in the Czech Republic appear to be comparably more planned and serious about deadlines
but appreciate humour in the work place less than their equivalents. We will first consider the general
themes for the whole region – that is, those items with similar results in each country – and then a brief
country by country analysis.

3
The overall mean responses for equivalent surveys in these three countries (30 comparable questions) are: Poland=0.10,
Ireland=0.11, Portugal = 0.13. [ “Can Portuguese Management compete?”, Ad Capita Executive Search and Cranfield School of
Management, 2002 and “Can Irish Management compete?”, Torc Consulting and Cranfield School of Management, 2003.]. Of
course, an aggregate mean response to a series of questions is only a crude comparator. For example, if we take out the language
question, the results are: Poland = 0.07, Portugal = 0.08, Ireland = 0.16.

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Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Comparison with the views of local managers 
“The management culture in Bulgaria is still in a phase of development and will need to adopt
a lot of the best practices that are currently being used in the other countries.” [Bulgarian
manager in Bulgaria]

“...foreign companies used to send here the ‘3rd and 4th league’ of managers with very low
skills which resulted in many fatally wrong decisions. [Even now] ...key positions are [often]
occupied by foreigners with no/low knowledge of the local environment with a logical impact
on results. It's still a habit to consider foreign managers better than the local ones. On the other
hand, the locals want to get very rich too fast with all the consequences on their behaviour.”
[Czech manager in the Czech Republic.]

“I think we are silly country, we are creating ...laws which we are not able to keep. There is a
huge gap between the real and the ‘to be’ world.” [Hungarian manager in Hungary]

“[The] situation is [getting] better and better. More and more Slovak managers have
international experience, [are] studying abroad: we can be optimistic. Some problems are
connected with decisions of international companies to send to Slovakia...managers from
Eastern Europe they are not capable enough or are of 3rd class.” [Slovak manager in Slovakia]

Appendix 3 (page 51) shows an analysis of the comparison between expatriates responses and those
from the “control” groups of local managers in each country. The comparison highlights questions
where there is a statistically significant difference between the means of expatriate and local responses.
Where there is a significant difference, looking at the values of the means will tell you in which
direction is that difference (that is, a more or less positive result).

There is a large country to country variation in how much locals agreed with their foreign counterparts.
In general, locals agreed remarkably well with their foreign counterparts. Thus in Bulgaria, Czech
Republic, Poland and Romania there were only six or fewer questions in dispute. This is especially
surprising for Bulgaria, whose ranking on most questions was heavily below the other five (see the
country rankings table above). Thus, in these countries locals seem to recognise the portrait painted by
expatriates of their management culture.

Hungarians, on the other hand, tend not to agree with what foreigners say about them and dispute 20
out of 44 statements. In 15 of these the disagreement is one of principle and not of degree (that is, a
positive response by one group compared with a negative response by the other group rather than just a
more or less positive or negative scoring). In all these questions, Hungarians respondents clearly have a
much more positive view of their performance.

The same is true, to a much lesser extent, for Slovakia, with 12 questions disputed, of which eight
represent differences of principle.


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There is one curious difference between expatriates and locals for all the countries except Hungary and
Slovakia: locals are slightly (but significantly) less enthusiastic about living and working in their own
countries than foreigners. 4

Findings – the region as a whole 

Sociability and the unexpected 

Whatever conclusions can be drawn from this survey, one thing is undisputable: most expatriates like
living and working in these six countries. These are sociable cultures, where relationships are very
important to personal and business life. As an Austrian manager in Hungary commented: “Doing
business without extended meals and a personal relationship is impossible.” Interpersonal skills are
valued. Of course, human warmth can be transformed into less transparent dealings and hence interfere
with good management. A British manager in the same country said that “Most managers are
nepotistic, employing friends or relatives, not on the ability to do a job, but purely on relationship.”
Humour is important, although perhaps not in the same bantering style typical of an Anglo-Saxon
workplace and on this aspect there is also variation among the different countries.

However, while warm relationships and sociability may well be very agreeable to colleagues, these
skills are often not being used effectively in business: poor customer service and indeed a lack of any
kind of customer orientation are very clear themes in the responses and feature way down in the
question rankings. In addition, while foreign language skills are also very good, social and linguistic
skills are not translated into dealing skilfully with other cultures and nationalities, questions which
again rate uniformly low.

One finding was particularly surprising to us: flexibility, adaptability and dealing with unexpected
situations are not a special gift for the countries in this region. It has always been almost an act of faith
that “Well, we may not always be so organised but we are outstanding at improvising and at dealing
creatively with unexpected situations.” The results on the two questions relating to adaptability 5 are
quite clearly negative from the point of view of expatriates. In most countries, local managers did not
agree with their foreign colleagues.

Customer orientation 

Customer orientation is the critical issue here. No business can deliver sustainable added value to its
shareholders if its managers do not care – and care deeply – about their customers and their needs. This
is not philanthropy but hard-nosed business sense. A Bulgarian manager saw this in his own country’s
culture: “The management culture in Bulgaria has still to work towards establishing and maintaining
strong customer relationships as a guideline to success.” The criticism is not superficial. In the survey

4
For the Czech Republic and Romania, the significance level is only very slightly below 90%.
5
See page 34

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Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

the statement “Business and commerce are highly customer oriented” ranked third from bottom and
was the worst business behavioural issue. The momentum of rapid growth and the competitive
advantage of cheap labour will not last: customers must be listened to, convinced, nurtured and
maintained and that is not happening systematically in any of the countries surveyed.

Customer orientation is not about the quick fake smile to strangers (so alien to Slavic cultures, for
example) or the insincere “Have a nice day”; it is about the dynamic understanding and adaptation of
business models to the fundamental business driver – customer need – as and when it changes. A US
manager commented: “Customer satisfaction in businesses in Romania seems to be the last item
thought about.” That says it all. Customer satisfaction cannot be an afterthought grudgingly given with
a surly face; it must be what the business is about. That realisation has yet to make a deep mark in the
management culture of even the most advanced of the CEE countries we looked at.

Businesses are not delivering customer orientation because managers do not think about excellent
customer service as a priority. This was the single most commented item. A British manager wrote at
length about Slovakia, which is second from top in the overall rankings:

“It is rare to find good customer service and therefore people do not expect it. This is
sometimes challenging as, if the managers have never lived abroad or travelled extensively,
their understanding and expectation of customer service is low and is not in line with a
corporate understanding of customer satisfaction. We need to take it back to the start and show
them what it means from a more Western point of view...Only then can they understand and
then filter down that understanding to their teams.”

Organisation, responsibility and leadership 

Internally, businesses in CEE need to be much more efficiently run: the finding that business is not
very well organised or efficient was ranked as the fifth worst aspect of doing business, with no
individual country showing significantly above that level. If we look at the bottom 15 items, all but
two 6 are to do with key strands of effective management: strategic vision, organisational clarity, taking
responsibility and customer orientation. These criticisms all point to a failure of leadership.

Three other specific items also scored poorly in all the countries and we believe them to be closely
interrelated. The first is teamwork: cooperation is not a natural characteristic of these cultures.
Whether this is deeply rooted or is a result of the “save your own skin” response to dictatorship is not
clear – the latter certainly will not have helped. This is closely related to the second item, the formalism
of hierarchies and leadership. Teamwork is important not only among peers, where it is often the easy
result of comradeship and of mutual interest to cooperate but also, and probably more importantly,
between bosses and their subordinates. Here, the bosses need the courage to be open, to allow for
criticism, to share in the team’s success and to take responsibility for its failures. The final specific item

6
The exceptions are how difficult it is to find well-trained managers (which basically explain a good part of the
reason for poor performance in these areas) and a completely separate question – that expatriates are viewed as
over-paid.

10 
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– personal responsibility, also relates closely to leadership. All those characteristics which require the
delegation and assumption of responsibility – creativity in problem solving, flexibility and adaptability,
taking the initiative, welcoming responsibility, taking a strategic position, scored low in this survey.
The lifeblood of good teamwork and of team leadership is the free and open giving and taking of
responsibility. This spirit also encourages creativity, the freedom to suggest the unorthodox, to
challenge the norms. In the end, the failure to give and take responsibility lies with managers. As a
French manager in Poland explained:

“....the management style is extremely formal and freedom of speech is constrained. That of
course, has consequences for team spirit, adaptability, the sense of taking responsibility and
also in the value Polish managers place on the company they are working for, their managers
and shareholders.”

As we see, the need to have open, informal (that does not mean intimate) hierarchies and leadership is
critical. If leaders – senior managers – do not display the courage to open themselves up to their
juniors, none of these factors will improve: teamwork, creativity or, for that matter, customer
orientation. So, formal and authoritarian leadership is not merely superficial, local cultural colouring: it
is an indisputable signifier of much deeper insecurity and closed thinking. Taking individual
responsibility willingly and openly is the heart of progressive, team based management and CEE
managers must learn that taking this step will transform their leaderships and their businesses.

Bureaucracy and corruption 

Bureaucracy is alive and kicking in all the CEE countries. It won the dubious prize of being the worst
aspect of doing business in this region. Even in Poland: “The biggest burden - by far - is bureaucracy!”
exclaimed an exasperated French manager.

Of course, all countries have their bureaucracies. Anyone who has ever had a run-in with the tax or
immigration services in the US, for example, can vouch that petty-minded officialdom is a global force
operating even in the freest of all markets. However, it is the cultural context that is important. We
need civil services to guarantee the ordered rule of law and protection of property rights so fundamental
to a free market 7 but when we do allow bureaucracies to interfere unnecessarily with business then it is
our responsibility to confront the political forces that feed from such structures. A British manager in
Slovakia (different from the one quoted above) confirms this view: “There is still an acceptance of the
power of the civil servants and no strong attitude to challenging unnecessary bureaucracy.” The
bureaucrats make our lives difficult because, in the end, we let them.

Worse, much worse, is the disease of corruption. The dramatic decision in 2008 by the European Union
to cut funding to Bulgaria (and to warn Romania of the same) because of out-of-control corruption

7
As Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, says: “The evidence of increasing property
rights, and the rule of law more generally, leading to increasing levels of material well being is extraordinarily
persuasive.” [The Age of Turbulence - Adventures in a New World, Penguin, 2007.]

11  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

means that the rather negative findings on corruption in our survey were no surprise. It is worth looking
again at the results and also those from Transparency International’s analysis (see tables below).

While Bulgaria clearly has deep


and extensive problems, the other
countries cannot be smug. This is
only one survey, looking at a
single question in the context of
business. Transparency
International’s much more
authoritative survey of corruption
places Poland only second worst to
Romania and Bulgaria in the EU
and the more upright Czech
Republic and Slovakia still have a
lot to do (as does Italy, for
example) 8 . Even in our survey, a
third (34%) of expatriates in
Poland said that corruption is a
problem in business: that figure is
over a half in all the other
countries in this study. So, while
for some reason corruption in Poland in particular may not be affecting business as much as in the other
CEE countries, it is still flourishing there. The CPI rankings also suggest that of the six countries, only
Romania is making significant headway in improving the situation.

Corruption, even a small amount, really is a profound problem: it does not simply represent an extra
cost or the need for a bigger margin. Corruption completely subverts the fundamental rules of business
dealings and the market. We should not limit this concern to bribery and other economic favours:
nepotism is equally or possibly more destructive of organisations. Several comments pointed to such
favours as being a particular feature in CEE countries. Just one manager appointed through favour or
family obligation can destroy the credibility, authority and team spirit of a complete business unit or
department. What incentive can a junior have to be creative and hardworking if she knows that the job
above her is not accessible by merit? What authority or role model can a “placed” manager represent to
his team? How can team spirit exist when everyone knows that so-and-so is protected from sanction for
incompetence or illicit activity? There may be tolerable levels of inefficiency, disorganisation,
bureaucracy, or even of insufficient customer focus but not of corruption. The only tolerable level is
zero and until it is eliminated these economies will not be able to advance as they should and
management culture will always be skewed.

8
Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index, 2008.

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Women managers 
“We prefer to hire women in every position, at present we have more than 80 % women in our
company. The reason is that they work much more effectively than their male counterparts.
Their identification with the company and their job is much stronger and they are also much
better in teamwork and communication.” [German manager in Hungary]

Politically correct or not, there is little doubt – in CEE women are considered better managers than
men. This finding was highly significant in all countries other than Hungary and was ranked seventh
from top (our assumption is that this is a positive finding). Note that local managers agreed, in all six
countries. Some of the comments quoted later (see in the analysis of results, page 45) are illuminating 9
and suggest that the key is that women are more responsible – that is, more honest, more hardworking,
more dedicated. This is a very interesting finding and certainly worthy of further research. There also
needs to be some real soul searching among the men, who do not necessarily want to face this truth:
“Most managers are sexists, who do not like having women in positions of power or promoting them,
unless there is something in it for them,” says a British manager in Hungary and the result, according to
a Belgian manager, is that: “...there are few female Managers in Slovakia, most leaders are male.”

Working with other cultures 

The results are very clear – foreigners love living in all these six countries. They are generally warmly
welcomed 10 and the cultural differences are cherished. Local managers, especially the younger ones,
have good language skills (See Appendix 4, page 52). There are some national variations and there
were a few negative comments but they are not generally very important. However, it also needs to be
pointed out that the results on the questions about skills in dealing with foreign customers and
colleagues and adaptation to other cultures were not always so good. It is clear that an effort needs to
be made. Adjusting to other cultures is not just a matter of politeness or bonhomie, it is essential
change of approach for any international business. The presence of expatriates is likely to remain an
important feature in CEE for a while to come. As one Romanian manager commented, this should be
positive for both sides:

“I believe that the presence of expatriates in the management teams of local companies, being
locally owned or under foreign control, is an essential asset for the future economical
development of Romania. The education and experience they bring in is extremely valuable
for all Romanians who want to learn and to develop themselves. The multicultural exposure
has a positive impact on both sides anyway!”

Curiously, the statement that local managers think that expatriates are over-paid met with strong
agreement, not just among expatriates but also among local managers responding to the questionnaire.

9
Curiously, out of six comments about the clear difference between men and women, five referred to Hungary,
where the statistical result was neutral.
10
The exception is Hungary, where there is a marked tendency for expatriate managers to be resented. Expatriate
and local managers agreed on this matter. See the Analysis of Results and also the Expatriate vs. Local
management comparison in the Appendices.

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Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

One Greek manager in Bulgaria expounded at length on this subject. His view is that the perception
that expatriate managers are expensive (and overpaid) is a damaging myth that results in a dangerous
reduction in the number of expatriates being deployed. “[This leads to the] simple result ... of having
inadequate local managers leading foreign (many times multinational) companies with much less
productivity, compared with the results that an expat would bring.” Nevertheless, this issue may need
to be dealt with by foreign companies.

The positive 

Of course, there are some very positive aspects about management culture other than its sociability.
The most notable and the most important for the future of the region is that managers really do work
hard. In four countries the finding was strongly positive. In the remaining two (Hungary and Bulgaria),
there was a statistically neutral opinion (that is, we should remember, not negative). If we add to this
the fact that the business environment is very active and dynamic (sixth highest ranking question) and
also the high sociability, we have all the ingredients essential for change: will, energy and relationships.
The managerial infrastructure is also much better than might be expected from the findings on
organisation and efficiency since, in general, managers appear to prefer to work in a planned way
(although there are some quite big national variations).

The other key ingredient in this recipe for change is human resources. The second worst finding was
that it is not easy to find well-trained managers. However, there is an important nuance to this response.
Many comments referred to a large generation gap. Here is a small sample, reflecting on some of the
issues mentioned above:

“I see that the older managers have difficulty in adapting to modern western management
styles, like being creative and taking responsibility. But I find the young ones to be very
adaptive and creative.” [Swedish manager, Bulgaria]

“I see a change of trend of young people wanting to take more responsibility than they would
before.” [French manager, Hungary]

“There is a variation based on age, with managers over 50 exhibiting much different
tendencies than those younger. Older managers are more hierarchical, and less independent.”
[US manager, Poland]

“...what [young managers] lack in experience they make up for in dedication and effort [and]
tend to adopt a much more "western" idea of customer service...[but] older "managers", have a
much more coercive style...Their idea of customer service is very much that they are doing the
customer a favour by allowing them to purchase something.” [British manager, Slovakia]

That this resource exists among the young provides great promise for the medium to long term. In the
short term of course, there is a dangerous experience or maturity shortfall: “I think the available
managers with real skills in Romania are very few. We have either rather old people with good
intentions but without any decision capacity or young wolves who intend to make some money,”

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explained a French manager. There is high turnover among these younger managers, who will move
just for money and, as a Hungarian manager said “We are missing the ‘old teachers’, the old traditions
and history in management and our business relationships.” A British manager in Poland noted that:

“The younger managers are usually well educated but lack relevant experience. They tend to
feel that they should be paid high salaries for their qualifications rather than their
effectiveness.”

This is necessarily a short- to medium- term problem. The employment market will stabilise, the young
will gain experience and move up the ranks and the better, older managers still around will also adapt
to the new ideas. In the meantime, the young must be careful, for there are dangers of arrogance or
worse among managers with lucky demographics. The older generation may not have had the fortune
to have access to business oriented education but they are not to be simply cast aside – their experience
and wisdom can still be of considerable use. : “[There] is an increasing ruthlessness within the social
interaction, combined with an incremental contempt for older people and people with a lower
education”, as a German manager in the Czech Republic commented. Young managers take note.

We will now look at a brief analysis of specific country issues.

Findings – country analyses 

Bulgaria 

Well, the alphabetically first country is also, sadly, very clearly the lowest ranked of all these six CEE
states. We say “very clearly” because by any measure there is a large gap between Bulgaria and the
next lowest ranked, Hungary. Bulgaria ranks lowest out of the six countries on 28 out of 44 questions
in the questionnaire. One Australian manager was clearly in despair:

“I could not possibly tell you what I truly believe about the Bulgarian business environment –
absolutely impossible – fully corrupt under the communist government. Bulgaria needs a
revolution...This country lacks ‘a few good men’. I have seen these on occasion but mostly
they are too exhausted to participate.”

The most often repeated comment is that Bulgaria has not yet let go of its wholly corrupt communist
era culture. “Bulgaria suffers from 50 years of communism...20 years of post-communist anarchy and
corruption, and 400 years of Ottoman Empire. Its quite oriental management and relationships probably
have more in common with the East and Arab countries than Central Europe.”, explained a British
manager.

It is difficult to know where to start with the litany of problems identified, although, as we have seen,
many are common to other CEE countries. However, the five most negatively ranked items were:

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Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

• No adherence to deadlines and timetables

• Bureaucracy

• Difficult to find well-trained managers

• Lack of customer service orientation

• Corruption

Corruption is particularly acute in business, as we have seen, and unless this is tackled seriously,
nothing else can change, because corruption undermines the very foundations of good management and
successful business. Nevertheless, it is important to stress that the ultimate responsibility for tackling
corruption (and unnecessary bureaucracy – often the two are closely linked), lies not with “the state” or
even the European Union but with business people and consumers. As the rather more optimistic Dutch
manager quoted in the analysis of results (see page 45) says, you do not have to pay, you need patience.
The bribe payer, however unwilling, is as corrupt as the bribe taker. Only business people working
together can stop corruption from stifling business.

The lack of customer orientation is dire in Bulgaria: 86% of respondents said that business is not highly
customer service oriented and 83% said that managers are not dedicated to excellent customer service.
This truly is disgraceful: it is difficult to understand how customers, whether consumers or businesses,
can accept being treated so shabbily.

The ignoring of deadlines and timetables was the worst ranking aspect of doing business in Bulgaria –
with an extraordinary 92% agreement level. This means that managers simply do not care about
commitment or any minimum level of professionalism in what they do.

As in other CEE countries, the shortage of good managers in the market is very serious and is
obviously a key cause of all the other management ills. However, some good managers are available:

“I find the young ones to be very adaptive and creative.” [Swedish manager]; “...[there are]
very skilled people who are working well. Few companies can afford them but [the] few [who
were] able to identify their needs in this area ...already took position over them.” [French
manager].

The fight over these scarce resources has lead to considerable arrogance, greed and disloyalty amongst
many of the young managers. “Success for locals can come easily without too much effort and this is
also one of the reasons for quick changing of jobs. For a short period of time this gives [the employee]
more money, independent of quality...” said a Greek manager. In the end, explained a Bulgarian
manager, it is the fault of companies who act irresponsibly in the heat of the battle for talent:

“CVs are, in most cases, exaggerated. It's funny how employers believe easily after a
convincing presentation. This doesn't change the fact that employers also [play with the truth]
or change conditions drastically just to get a better candidate quicker without thinking about
the consequences. There is something very wrong in the whole situation. The result: so many
people change working place too often. Companies don't take this as a serious problem and

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lose trained personnel who go directly to the competition and employees don't make a stable
career.”

In the end, all of these areas – bureaucracy, corruption, customer service, lack of professionalism,
shortage of talent – can only be tackled by businesses themselves. It will take patience, determination,
investment in training and development and ruthless adherence to ethical and professional standards.
There are no shortcuts: the question is whether businesses, particularly foreign businesses, have the
courage and persistence to carry out such a programme. While in the other five countries, managers
struggle – with more or less success – to compete in a dynamic market economy, the very large gap in
performance for Bulgaria suggests that most managers here have yet even to accept the fact that the
market exists. Instead, they cheerfully fall back on a blind faith that the old ways of bribery,
obfuscation and muddling through will somehow work. The change in mindset will indeed have to be
profound.

An Italian manager who complained about the lack of planning (see analysis of results, page 32) also
pointed out how friendly and passionate the people are. “Bulgarians are friendly and very pleasant
people, but doing business is slow and frustrating.” exclaimed a British manager. It is important to note
that Bulgarians scored high in questions related to being friendly, accepting the presence of expatriates
and also the quality of women managers. The people also appear to accept criticism with grace and
humour, since there were very few questions, even the most negative ones, where locals disagreed
significantly with expatriates. These factors are indeed positive and suggest that Bulgaria is willing and
able to face up to the criticism with a positive spirit and to deal head-on with the problems. The
comment of one US manager sums up the position:

“Regardless of experience, Bulgarian managers are hard working and dedicated. What they
lack in experience is usually made up for with enthusiasm. The advantages of operating a
business in Bulgaria far outweigh any disadvantages.”

Czech Republic 

The Czech Republic is definitely in the higher scoring group in the CEE, ranked third overall and with
most of its results in the middle of the tables. The country suffers from the same key problems as the
region as a whole – poor customer service, bureaucracy, disorganisation and a shortage of good
managers. Thus, customer service orientation ranked 43rd out of 44 questions, finding well-trained
managers was 42nd and bureaucracy was 40th.

However, there are some clear cultural differences and resulting positives. The results suggest that of
the six nationalities, the Czechs have the most “Germanic” traits in management. Thus, they are ranked
in the top two positions against the other countries for:

• Being planned in their approach

• Decisions taken in meetings are accepted

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Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

• Being hardworking

• Meeting deadlines and timetables

• Generally being organised and efficient

• Being cooperative rather than individualistic

Even so, only the first three were based on positive responses – in the others they were negative, just
less negative than in other countries. The other side of the Germanic stereotype in Czech traits is also
notable: the country ranked in the bottom two positions for flexibility and the importance of humour
and personal relationships in the workplace. As one French manager commented, Czechs are “hard
workers, clever, pragmatic and efficiency-oriented. They don't have a huge sense of humour.”

So, while there are no grounds for complacency – after all, corruption, a very un-Germanic trait, still
significantly hampers business there 11 – the marked tendency to be structured and hardworking is an
excellent foundation on which to build the best management skills and values. The very close
correspondence between local and expatriate opinion 12 is also heartening: Czech managers are honest
and open-minded when they look in the mirror: in any change process the recognition of faults is as
important as the appreciation of qualities.

Hungary 

Overall, Hungary shares the same faults as the rest of the region, although generally slightly worse –
customer service, bureaucracy, corruption and disorganisation are serious problems. While statistically
this is not Bulgaria, performance in this survey was definitely in the lower group.

Yet, of course, Hungary is very different from its neighbours: the dominant Magyar culture is totally
distinct from the Slavic, Latin and Germanic foundations of bordering countries. Thus, Hungary scores
high on questions dealing with the importance of personal relationships, creativity and informality –
this is a country of the warmth of the human spirit, even, or perhaps especially, in the workplace.
Hungary scored in the top two places for the following:

• It is important to make friendships

• Communication is not too formal

• Strong interpersonal skills are valued

• Good personal relationships with customers are essential

• Hierarchies are informal

• Creativity in problem solving is a strong characteristic

11
56% of respondents agreed with this assessment and the CPI ranking is very poor – see page 12 above.
12
See page 8 above.

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The last two of these items had negative responses, just slightly less negative than for other countries.
The point here is the human, personal focus. However, while it may be very agreeable, this social
energy is not being channelled into good customer relationships, since in both of the customer service
related questions 13 , Hungary had strongly negative scores here and ranked second and third from
bottom. Nor are selling skills great.

Surprisingly, for a socially extraverted culture, it appears that managers are really not very good with
foreigners: they ranked worst in CEE for understanding and adapting to different cultures, second worst
for managers’ ability to deal with overseas customers and colleagues and second worst in ability to
speak foreign languages. Furthermore, as we saw when comparing local and expatriate views (page 8),
Hungarian managers have a very different (i.e. more positive) view of themselves than do expatriates.
This difference is strikingly bigger than any of the other countries in the survey, where locals generally
felt that expatriates’ criticisms were about right. Given the consistency in other countries, we can only
conclude that Hungarians do not understand other cultures or themselves as well as think they do and
that they are unduly defensive against external criticism. In fact, this was the only country where we
had comments on exactly this theme. It is worth quoting at some length a Hungarian manager who has
significant international experience:

“Coming back to my homeland a few months ago was shocking, I already forgot how it is:
doing business and dealing with managers in Hungary...[Hungarian managers] are rather for
explaining how we cannot reach our target (budget, volume, etc.) than thinking about all we
could do to be successful. [They] always state that ‘This is Hungary, here the
market/people/consumers/etc are totally different from other (neighbouring) countries,
therefore no international know-how is applicable’. Needless to say: this is not at all true...
Hungarian managers do not like to follow international know-how, they are rather reserved
and usually block...everything which is ‘not invented here’.”

Or, in other words: “The standard feeling is since this country is different they can handle everything
without outside help, until that is, things start to go wrong.” [British manager].

So, what is the way forward? As always, the best approach is almost certainly to build on the positive
and try to deal with the negative. The strong social and interpersonal skills are certainly the basis for a
competitive advantage and must be directed towards the customer: from its strengths, Hungary should
be the best country in CEE (or even Europe, why not?) for customer service. Once you deal properly
with your customers, all the rest – organisation, strategy, reduced bureaucracy and so on – tend to
follow. Secondly, it is time the Hungarians opened their minds to external advice and ideas. There
really is a huge wealth of tried, tested and proven management and business experience to be adapted
and learned from. Trying to reinvent the wheel of good management suggests either hubris or
insecurity (possibly both) and while that is happening, other markets will have passed by. There is no

13
“In this country business and commerce are highly customer service oriented” and “Local management is
dedicated to excellent customer service”

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Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

reason why the most economically liberal of the communist regimes should end up as the most
inefficient of the post-communist ones.

Poland 

The results are undeniable – Poland is the star of this show. Poland ranked first on 17 of the 44
questions and in the first two places on well over half (28 questions). One French manager stated that
“Polish managers are as good and as competitive as other managers in other European countries”. Most
other respondents would probably not go so far but there is a feeling in many of the comments that
Poland really does have a pretty advanced management culture that has improved enormously over the
last two decades. As another, less exuberant, French manager said “It is clear to me that company
management is now reaching a junction: not fully at the right level and yet having accomplished
tremendous progress over the past years and being now empowered.” Whatever criticisms we make
(and we must), this really is an astonishing achievement in only 20 years since the fall of the iron
curtain.

Nevertheless, there is no room for complacency, if only because other CEE competitors are close
behind and those ahead in the rest of Europe (and Asia for that matter) are also improving. We believe
that apart from the general problems identified for the region and which are all applicable to Poland, we
should give special emphasis to two specific points.

The first question is corruption. We admit to a certain confusion. The result on this question was a
statistical positive. Poland was the only country where expatriates agreed, on average, that corruption
does not significantly affect business. However, that finding hides the shocking fact that even so, 35%
of expatriates did not agree. The CPI index, as we have seen14 is also unequivocal – corruption remains
a serious problem in Poland. It may not affect day to day business life but major business decisions are
being subverted by its evil effects. That it is better than many neighbouring countries is not much
comfort. If Poland is to compete with Spain and Germany and the UK then it has to clean up its act.

Second, is the formality and status consciousness of management. (Another) French manager said
“Polish managers pay huge attachment to hierarchy and related visual benefits.” “Respect is expected
for [older managers’] titles rather than their actions,” said a British manager. The two questions relating
to formality were ones where Poland performed worse than other countries. Superficially, this may not
seem to be such a serious problem but formality and hierarchical rigidity impede communication and
prevent teams from working properly. We have discussed this above in the conclusions about the
region as a whole 15 . It is certainly a critical issue and one which takes considerable effort to change as
it has to address deep questions of personal insecurity and self-worth.

14
Page 12
15
Page 10

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Poland is closest to overtaking other Western nations in terms of economic and managerial
performance. This is exactly the point at which all those special skills that the Poles have so clearly
demonstrated must be applied to ridding the country of the scourge of corruption and refocusing that
energy on excellent customer service and a more open management style. We have no doubt that Polish
managers will succeed and will be intrigued to see just how high Poland will rank on a European scale
in, say, 10 years’ time.

Romania 

Romania has had to do more to transform its economy than most others in the region. The Ceausescu
regime was paranoically destructive of the economy and its infrastructures and left a terrible legacy of
inefficiency, corruption and waste. So, in this context, Romania’s ranking in the middle of the group,
considerably above Bulgaria and Hungary, is very encouraging.

The positive aspects of the culture are interesting. Many of the items where Romania was ranked first
or second relate to the energy and dynamism of the people. For example:

• Active and dynamic business environment

• Ambition is admired

• Managers tend to be excellent at selling

• There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit

By contrast, those ranking Romania in the bottom two positions tend to be about poor organisation and
teamwork. For example:

• Business is not well organised and efficient

• Deadlines and timetables are not taken seriously

• Teamwork is poor

• Managers do not prefer to work in a planned way

The message here is clear – the Romanians must apply their undoubted energy and entrepreneurial
spirit to clearing up the mess; planning, structuring, strategising and, most importantly, learning to
work in teams. From Adam Smith’s division of labour to the most modern theories of management,
working in teams, with common purpose and shared results, lies at the heart of good management. It
cannot simply be a lively party with each individual trying to get the most out of it. “There is too much
individualism in the workplace here. The majority of workers tend to be only trying make themselves
out to be the best so that they can get promoted,” commented a US manager.

Once again, however, corruption is a blight on this country’s economy and its negative effect on good
business and management cannot be overestimated. We have discussed this in more detail above 16 . It

16
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should be noted, without risking complacency, that, in contrast to Hungary and Bulgaria, Romania’s
ranking in the CPI tables has slowly been improving in recent years.

The Romanian case really is different from that of its neighbours. On the one hand, a truly terrible past,
on the other an indomitable Latin spirit. It is remarkable that all the 13 questions where Romania
ranked first or second relate to energy and openness, whether to entrepreneurship, to foreigners, to
women, to work or to each other in the informality of the workplace. Organisational skills may
currently be weak but the drive and willingness of managers to listen to others and examine themselves
are powerful forces for change.

Slovakia 

The smallest (and youngest, along with the Czech Republic) country in the group is also one of the
most successful, both economically (highest GDP growth) and also, from this survey, in terms of
management culture, where the country came second only to Poland in the rankings. There are some
impressive positives.

The two main themes of cultural success are identification with the team and problem solving skills.
Thus, the most important items in which Slovakia ranked top were:

• Teamwork

• Flexibility and adaptability

• Taking the initiative

• Accepting decisions taken in meetings

• Company loyalty

• Less bureaucracy

Only the last item was statistically negative.

The most important items ranking in the bottom positions are:

• Lack of entrepreneurial spirit in managers

• Formality in hierarchies and communication

To be consistent, we also have to point out that corruption is still a problem in Slovakia, as in all the
CEE states and while the country ranked second from top to our question, the CPI figures are still of
considerable concern.

Slovakia displays some subtle cultural differences from its neighbours (notably from the Czech
Republic). The positives identified above, as well as the others in the stats, show that Slovaks are rather
well organised and planned but that it is likely that the route to this is through working together rather
than just through an affinity to rules and structure. There is a willingness to take responsibility and to

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change the way of working when the situation requires. This is a resourceful culture that will work hard
and in a team to get results: almost certainly one of the benefits of being a small, cohesive country.
There is still a tendency to protect position with titles and hierarchies but, as in other countries, the new
generation of managers, more dynamic and less insecure, is likely to change that as it pushes up
through the ranks. Said a British manager:

“My organisation has a high population of young managers who, what they lack in experience
they make up for in dedication and effort ...[and] tend to adopt a much more ‘western’ idea of
customer service.”

And a German manager commented that:

“My manager colleagues are highly motivated and educated...my Slovak colleagues
demonstrate a sharp mind and tend to learn quickly.”

A Slovak manager said that:

“The situation is getting better and better: more and more Slovak managers have international
experience [and are] studying abroad. We can be optimistic.”

Of course not all the comments were so positive. A Dutch manager pointed out a particular educational
shortfall:

“Local managers in Slovakia are good people but they lack experience for their... job. That
means that, for example, there is not a good relationship between schools and companies to
[ensure appropriate education].”

Slovakia is a small country that has been dominated by just about every foreign power in the region
over its history. The people are clearly hardworking, determined, structured and outward-looking. In
the survey they scored especially well in those items related to organisational skills and to market
orientation, and, as we argue to be most important of all (see page 10), the willingness to take
responsibility. There is little doubt that Slovakia will continue its meteoric rise.

Conclusions 

There are many positive aspects of CEE management culture – hard work and energy, strong social
skills and attention to human relationships, a tendency to plan are the most outstanding features. There
are also some important issues that need addressing. We believe that three most critical areas for action
are:

• Managers must take much more personal responsibility for their and their teams’ performance,
eliminating unnecessary formality and hierarchical barriers.

23  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

• Businesses and their managers must put customer orientation at the heart of all they do, for this is
the ultimate driver of sustainable business success.

• Corruption – and the related bureaucracy – must be eradicated: it is a disease whose mildest
infections are virulent. Business managers have to take full responsibility for a zero tolerance
approach.

We cannot fail to mention the salutary finding that women are better managers than their male
counterparts. More research is needed but the reason for that view appears to be the more professional
and responsible approach of women to work. Dare we say it – are female managers just more grown-up
than males? It will be interesting to see the responses this question receives in other countries.

There are considerable variations country to country across the region, from countries whose
performance is fast catching up, if not already overtaking, some Western European nations, to those
who have yet wholly to lose their communist era mindsets. However, the themes above are common to
all. Each country has its own special strengths and its own particular problems, which we have looked
at earlier in this report.

This study is not, nor was it ever intended to be, some sort of attack on CEE cultures. The future, even
in the present very worrying global economic climate, is encouraging. The biggest hope lies with the
newer generations of educated managers now entering the market – preferably more humble and open-
minded than some members of the so called “golden generation” whose jackpot success has come at a
cost to personal and moral values. It is the responsibility of individual CEE managers, not the EU, not
governments, not politicians, to bring about the necessary changes and unless and until this becomes a
personal commitment by the majority of them, the serious, potentially fatal flaws identified here will
not be remediated.

It is only the special talents and energy that have already so dramatically transformed the region in such
a short time, that can create the long lasting added-value need for a sustainable future and, ultimately,
ensure the impossibility of conceiving that Central and Eastern Europe could ever again fall outside the
family of liberal economies, ethical values and deep-seated democracy that is modern Europe.

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Analysis of responses 

Here we look at responses to all the survey questions, one by one. Alongside a chart showing responses
from expatriates in each of the six countries we also show a chart ranking country responses. The
ranking is based on the average response for that question 17 , with positive responses (blue) meaning
agreement with the statement and negative (pink), disagreement.

Note that in the text of this report and in the accompanying graphs we have turned some positives
statement in the questionnaire into negative or vice versa – and reversed the order of response statistics
accordingly. Such “reversed” questions are indicated with an asterisk on the chart. While it is important
to vary the positive or negative slant of questions in a questionnaire, for this analysis it is useful for all
questions to point in the same direction. This means that in this report, with some of the questions
reversed, responses of agreement always represent positive management or business characteristics;
disagreement indicates negative ones, at least in the view of the authors of this report. The original
questionnaire with the statements phrased in the varied form is reproduced in Appendix 5 (page 54).

Complete survey response data appear in Appendix 1 (page 48). We also list comments added by
respondents in Appendix 6 (page 56).

17
In order to calculate a “mean” response for a particular question, we attributed values to each grade of response.
The values attributed range from -2.5 for Strongly Disagree to +2.5 for Strongly Agree, without any weighting –
that is, the difference between, for example, Mildly Agree and Agree is the same as the difference between Agree
and Strongly Agree. Thus, the zero point represents a neutral position; a positive response is one in agreement with
the statement in question; a negative response is one in disagreement. We consider a response not to be
significantly positive or negative if the mean response is not statistically different from zero, at a 90% level of
significance. Therefore, such a response is statistically neutral.

25  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

General social and business environment 
“I like to think what makes Hungary a difficult place to work makes it a nice place to live.”
[Austrian manager]

“I consider bureaucracy a serious problem for investors [in Slovakia]”. “...the biggest
problem [in Bulgaria] is the inefficiency of the official bureaucracy”. “...There is a lot of
bureaucracy in all three countries [Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary], the only
difference is that there is always a way around it in Hungary”. [Spanish, Bulgarian and
Austrian managers]

I enjoy living here   Ranking of mean response

50% Czech Republic
40%
Poland
30%

20% Hungary

10% Slovakia
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Bulgaria
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Romania
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly  Strongly 
disagree agree

Whatever they think about CEE management, foreigners clearly enjoy living in all these
countries. 92% in the Czech Republic said they like living there, with over third (35%) strongly
agreeing and even in Romania, the lowest ranked for this statement, 77% agree.

I enjoy working here Ranking of mean response

50% Slovakia
40%
Poland
30%

20% Czech Republic

10% Romania
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Hungary
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

Given the comment of the Austrian manager quoted above – a sentiment repeated by several
respondents – it is surprising that expatriates generally like working in these countries at least as
much or even more than living there. In four countries the working response was slightly higher than
the living response: Bulgaria (81% vs. 77%), Czech Republic (96% vs. 92%), Romania (86% vs. 83%)
and Slovakia (90% vs. 84%). In Slovakia and Romania this difference was expressed with even greater

26 
TARGET International Executive Search

conviction (Strongly Agree + Agree = 75% vs. 64% for Slovakia and 67% vs. 47% for Romania). In
Poland the two results were very close (93% vs. 95%) but in Hungary respondents more find working
there somewhat less agreeable than living there (80% vs. 85%).

Bureaucracy is not  a serious  problem  in this  Ranking of mean response


country* 
50% Slovakia
40%
Czech Republic
30%

20% Poland

10% Hungary
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Romania
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree
*Here and throughout the charts and tables, an asterisk denotes a reversed question. See the introduction to this 
Analysis of Responses, p 25 

Bureaucracy is a serious problem in all these countries, although there are marked differences of
degree. In Bulgaria 83% think it is a serious problem (67% emphatically so 18 ), while at the other end
of the scale, in Slovakia there is clear recognition that things are not quite so bad: 30% believe it is not
a serious problem and, as one Canadian manager put it “[In Slovakia] bureaucracy is a problem that
gets a little better every year”.

Local companies  usually have a clear business  Ranking of mean response


strategy
50% Poland
40%
Slovakia
30%

20% Czech Republic

10% Hungary
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Romania
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

18
In this part, we use modifiers such as “emphatically”, “markedly” or “decidedly” to signify all those responding
Strongly Agree or Agree (or Strongly Disagree and Disagree). This is to exclude those who responded close to a
neutral position and so may not be so clear in their view. “Strongly” only refers to responses at either extreme.

27  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

In general, it is felt that local companies do not have a clear business strategy – in all six countries
the average response was significantly 19 negative. However, once again there is considerable variation
among countries. In Bulgaria 79% think there is no clear strategy (54% markedly), while in Poland and
Slovakia the figures are only 58% and 60% respectively (with only 22% and 24% clearly decided).

The business  environment  here is very active and  Ranking of mean response


dynamic
50% Poland
40%
Romania
30%

20% Slovakia

10% Czech Republic
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Bulgaria
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Hungary
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

In five countries expatriates agree that the country where they work has a very active and
dynamic business environment, from a maximum of 89% agreeing in Poland (65% of which
markedly), down to 65% (37%) in Bulgaria. However, respondents in Hungary show a small but
significant propensity to disagree with this affirmation, with only 43% in agreement and only 17%
emphatically so.

In this country  business and commerce  are highly  Ranking of mean response


customer service oriented 
40% Poland

30%
Slovakia

20%
Czech Republic
10%
Romania
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Hungary
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

Business and commerce are not highly customer service oriented in CEE, say foreign managers.
This finding is highly significant, although there is a marked difference in degree among the six
countries. In Bulgaria, there really is no customer service orientation – 86% of replies support this, with
nearly a third (31%) responding at the most negative level of “Strongly Disagree”. The picture is not
much better in Hungary, Romania or the Czech Republic with corresponding figures of 83% (25%

19
In this analytical part of the report we use “significant” to mean statistically significant. Thus, a significantly
negative (or positive) response is one whose mean significantly different from the neutral position, applying a 90%
probability criterion on a 2-tailed T-test.

28 
TARGET International Executive Search

Strongly), 82% (21%) and 80% (22%). Customer orientation is slightly less poor in Slovakia (76% and
16%, respectively) and rather better but still definitively negative, in Poland at 64% disagreement (only
7% Strongly).

Business is generally very well organised and  Ranking of mean response
efficient 
50% Poland
40%
Czech Republic
30%

20% Slovakia

10% Hungary
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Romania
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

Foreign managers do not agree with the statement that business is generally very well organised
and efficient. However, there are two clear divisions of performance among the six countries. In the
“first division” – Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia – the average response was at the mildly
disagree level, with only around 30% of replies expressing emphatic disagreement (Strongly Disagree
+ Disagree responses of 27%, 29%, 31% respectively). The second division – Hungary, Romania and
Bulgaria – elicits much more negative reactions, with average responses heading to the Disagree level
and emphatic disagreement proportions of between a half and two thirds of responses (49%, 58% and
67%, respectively).

Deadlines and timetables are taken seriously in  Ranking of mean response
business here 
60% Czech Republic
50%
40% Poland

30%
Slovakia
20%
10% Hungary
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Romania
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

Overall, deadlines and timetables are not taken seriously. In this case, though, there is a wide
variation of responses among the countries, from the Czech Republic, where the response is neutral), to
Bulgaria where it appears timeliness is not even considered in the culture, with a huge 92% of
respondents complaining of this, nearly a quarter (23%) in Strong Disagreement. The two charts

29  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

illustrate both the wide range of responses and the particularly poor performances of Bulgaria and
Romania (88% all disagreement, 26% strongly).

Humour is important  in working  relationships  in  Ranking of mean response


this country 
40% Romania

30%
Bulgaria

20%
Slovakia
10%
Hungary
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Poland
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Czech Republic
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

One can hardly avoid the irony of the fact that seriousness in deadlines and timetables appears to be
inversely related to the importance of humour in working relationships 20 : that is, the less the
timely a nation, the more a sense of humour is needed. The ranking can be seen in the chart. This
relationship may well, of course, not be causal. Responses were not very marked on this question and
in Poland and the Czech Republic the results were statistically neutral. However, in general humour
plays some importance at work and in the remaining four countries around 60% of respondents
affirmed this to be true, with around a third agreeing decisively in Romania (36%), Bulgaria (33%) and
Slovakia (32%) and a quarter in Hungary (26%).

It is important  here to  make friendships  with  Ranking of mean response


colleagues and  customers
50% Bulgaria
40%
Hungary
30%

20% Slovakia

10% Romania
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Poland
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Czech Republic
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

These are indubitably very sociable cultures, as it is important to make friendships with colleagues and
customers: this was one of the strongest responses in the questionnaire. Only a small proportion of
respondents disagree with this statement (21% disagreement in total in the Czech Republic, 12% in
Hungary and Bulgaria).

20
The correlation coefficient between the two sets of results is in fact quite high at -0.88, supporting this curious
observation.

30 
TARGET International Executive Search

It is easy to find well‐trained  managers in this  Ranking of mean response


country
50% Poland
40%
Hungary
30%

20% Czech Republic

10% Romania
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Slovakia
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

Crucially for the success of these economies in the medium term, managerial talent is scarce: it is very
difficult to find well-trained managers in all these countries. The finding is not linearly related to
the general quality of the business environment (for example, strategic preparation, customer
orientation, organisational efficiency), so that, while following the general trend, Bulgaria is at the
bottom of this ranking and Poland is at the top, the usual rankings of Slovakia and Hungary are
reversed. The lack of trained talent is especially acute in Bulgaria with an astonishing 42% of
respondents choosing “Disagree Strongly” with the statement that such managers are easy to find. As
an extreme response this is second only (by 1%) to the joint worst performing questions about
bureaucracy and corruption. However, while the situation may not be so desperate in other countries, it
is still a very important effect: even in Poland, 40% express marked disagreement and in no country is
the overall agreement score above 20%.

We could  recruit better  managers if we could  pay  Ranking of mean response


them more
40% Poland

30%
Hungary

20%
Bulgaria
10%
Slovakia
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Romania
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Czech Republic
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

It is debatable whether recruitment problems are a question of remuneration. Only in Poland was
there clear agreement to the statement “We could recruit better managers if we could pay them more”.
In Hungary, Bulgaria the result was not significant and in Romania and the Czech Republic there was a
lukewarm rejection of this suggestion.

31  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Management style 
“Local employees [in Romania], when assuming managerial positions, tend rather to act like
small 'dictators', having no respect for people in the same or in less senior positions. This
destroys team spirit and creates unpleasant tensions” [Greek manager]

“Planning in [Bulgaria] is an unknown word... on the other hand, people are very open and
friendly, passionate about their work and hard workers” [Italian manager]

“Slovak managers are great in improvising and solving problems because they don't know
how to organize.” [Dutch manager, quoting a press comment]

“Polish managers pay huge [attention] to hierarchy and related visual benefits [but really
think]... ‘as soon as I am a Director (i.e. high status...) I consider that it is no more my duty to
work hard and I just delegate [everything] but without appropriate control’.” [French
manager]

Local managers work well in teams Ranking of mean response

40% Poland

30%
Slovakia

20%
Czech Republic
10%
Hungary
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Romania
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree
Managers are cooperative,  rather  than  Ranking of mean response
individualistic, in their thinking*
40% Slovakia

30%
Czech Republic

20%
Poland
10%
Hungary
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Romania
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

Management culture in CEE countries has not yet adopted a cooperative, team spirit approach.
In all six countries the finding was clearly that individualism is the preferred mode: even in Slovakia,
the “least worst” in this aspect, nearly a third of respondents (31%) were emphatic on this point. Team
work, while significantly criticised in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria is not actively endorsed in any

32 
TARGET International Executive Search

country. In short, working together towards a common goal is not yet a natural way of working in these
cultures.

Hierarchies here tend  to  be informal Ranking of mean response

50% Hungary
40%
Bulgaria
30%

20% Poland

10% Romania
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Slovakia
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Czech Republic
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree
Communication  with and  between managers is not  Ranking of mean response
too formal*
40% Hungary

30%
Romania

20%
Bulgaria
10%
Czech Republic
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Slovakia
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Poland
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

Hierarchies are rather formal, with as much as 83% of respondents in Czech Republic disagreeing
with the idea that they are informal. On the other hand, there is no uniform view on the statement in the
questionnaire that communication with and between managers is too formal. Only at either end of the
spectrum were the results significant: in Hungary such communication is not too formal (so say 59% of
respondents), in Poland it is too formal (58%). In neither case is the response very marked.

Local managers welcome responsibility Ranking of mean response

40% Poland

30%
Slovakia

20%
Czech Republic
10%
Hungary
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Romania
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

33  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Managers are unwilling to take responsibility. Only in Poland was the negative response not
significant. In Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and the Czech Republic, around two thirds of respondents
feel that responsibility tends not to be welcomed (71%, 66%, 64% and 64% respectively), while in
Slovakia the effect was marginally over half (52%). Yet it is notable that even in Poland and Slovakia,
positive endorsement was to, to say the least, weak. In the whole of the combined Polish and Slovak
sample of 330 foreigners only four (just over 1%) agreed strongly that responsibility is welcomed and
43 (13%) chose “Agree”.

Managers like to take a wide, strategic view Ranking of mean response

50% Poland
40%
Czech Republic
30%

20% Slovakia

10% Hungary
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Romania
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

Taking a wide, strategic view is decidedly not part of these cultures. The degree of negative
response divides roughly into two groups: in Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, about half of all
respondents answered markedly in the negative (48%, 47%, 50% respectively) and in Slovakia, Czech
Republic and Poland, the results are not much different (37%, 45%, 29%), even if the mean responses
were rather less extreme.

Managers in this country  are very flexible and  Ranking of mean response


adaptable
40% Slovakia

30%
Poland

20%
Romania
10%
Hungary
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Czech Republic
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

These cultures are not marked in their ability to be flexible and to deal with the unexpected.
Reponses to the statements “Managers in this country are very flexible and adaptable” and “Managers
are good at dealing with unexpected situations” were uniformly, if not dramatically, negative, although

34 
TARGET International Executive Search
Managers are good  at dealing with unexpected  Ranking of mean response
situations
40% Poland

30%
Romania

20%
Hungary
10%
Slovakia
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Czech Republic
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

for the second statement the responses in Poland and Romania were not very significant 21 . This finding
is particularly striking, because one of the strongest perceptions of local inhabitants in CEE about
themselves, is that, if nothing else, they are great at improvising and “expecting the unexpected”.

Perhaps surprisingly, given the strong finding that business is not generally well organised and
efficient, managers tend to prefer to work in a planned way. This appraisal was especially strong in
the Czech Republic (80% in agreement, 49% markedly) but was also significantly positive in Slovakia,

Managers here prefer to  work in a planned  way Ranking of mean response

50% Czech Republic
40%
Slovakia
30%

20% Poland

10% Hungary
0%
Romania
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly 
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree
Local managers are concentrated  and efficient  Ranking of mean response
with their  time
40%
Poland

30%
Czech Republic
20%
Slovakia
10%
Hungary
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Romania
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

21
75% and 80% levels of significance respectively.

35  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Poland and Hungary. The negative response in Bulgaria and Romania was not statistically significant
and a sizeable number expressed a positive opinion in each case (49% and 42%, respectively). The
implementation of this planned approach is not so effective because managers are not concentrated
and efficient with their time. The response was not significant in Poland and in the Czech Republic
and Slovakia the effect was comparatively small (58% and 50% overall disagreement, respectively). In
Bulgaria, criticism was much stronger, with nearly half (46%) markedly negative.

Decisions agreed in meetings are usually accepted  Ranking of mean response
and acted upon
40% Slovakia

30%
Czech Republic

20%
Poland
10%
Romania
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Hungary
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

The degree to which decisions agreed in meetings are accepted and acted upon varies among the
different cultures and correlates closely with the responses on planned working 22 and time
efficiency 23 : in other words, the more planned and more time efficient managers are, the more likely
they are to implement meeting decisions. The separation among different countries is more striking
here than on the previous two statements with, at the positive end, 64% of expatriates in Slovakia
agreeing and at the negative end in Bulgaria, 57% disagreeing (36% emphatically). The jury is out in
Romania and Hungary, as the responses were not significantly different from the neutral position.

Ambition is admired in CEE. There was a significantly positive response here in all countries.
Ambitious managers are admired Ranking of mean response

40% Romania

30%
Poland

20%
Slovakia
10%
Czech Republic
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Bulgaria
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Hungary
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

22
Correlation coefficient of 0.83.
23
Correlation coefficient of 0.89.

36 
TARGET International Executive Search

However, the effect is especially strong in Romania, with 43% of expatriates agreeing markedly that
ambitious managers are admired. In Poland the figure is 39% but for Hungary, at the other end of the
scale, only around a quarter of expatriates (27%) were so decided.

Strong interpersonal  skills in managers are highly  Ranking of mean response


valued here
40% Hungary

30%
Poland

20%
Slovakia
10%
Czech Republic
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Romania
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

We have seen that one of the most important findings is that it is very important to make friendships
with colleagues and customers. As might be expected for countries where personal relationships are so
important, strong interpersonal skills are highly valued. While the positives are not especially high,
they are significant and around 60% (from 57% in Bulgaria to 63% in both Poland and Romania) of
respondents in each country agree with the statement.

Creativity in problem  solving is a strong local  Ranking of mean response


management characteristic
40% Poland

30%
Romania

20%
Hungary
10%
Czech Republic
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Slovakia
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

We also saw that flexibility and dealing with unexpected situations are not strong characteristics among
CEE managers. Similarly, problem solving tends to be reactive and uncreative. The two statements
related to dealing with problems both show clearly negative results and are ranked poorly compared
with other statements in the questionnaire 24 . Thus, foreign respondents did not agree that “Creativity in
problem solving is a strong local management characteristic”: in Poland only 23% agreed emphatically
and 37% clearly disagreed and in Bulgaria, at the other end of the scale, the positive figure was only

24
See the Question Ranking in Appendix 2. The relevant statements were ranked 30th and 39th out of 44,
respectively.

37  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

17%, with 45% in strong or decided disagreement. In none of the countries do managers typically like
to take the initiative in preventing and solving problems, with the number of negative responses
ranging from 70% in Slovakia to 79% in Bulgaria (emphatic disagreement ranging from 40% to 51%).

Managers like to take the initiative in preventing  Ranking of mean response
and solving problems
40% Slovakia

30%
Poland

20%
Czech Republic
10%
Romania
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Hungary
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

In general, expatriates agree emphatically that CEE managers work hard. Overall, this was the
eighth highest ranked question of the 44 25 . In the highest ranking country, Romania, 71% of
respondents agreed, nearly half (47%) markedly so. Only in Hungary and Bulgaria are respondents not
Managers in this country  work hard  Ranking of mean response

40% Romania

30%
Slovakia

20%
Czech Republic
10%
Poland
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Hungary
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree
There is not  a culture  of "presenteeism Ranking of mean response
(working long hours  'for show')* 
40%
Poland
30%
Czech Republic
20%
Hungary
10%
Bulgaria
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Slovakia
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Romania
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

25
See Appendix 2.

38 
TARGET International Executive Search

convinced, – in these two countries the responses were not significantly different from neutral, with a
roughly fifty-fifty split on the question (51% for, 45% against in Hungary; 56% vs. 44% in Bulgaria).
This hard work is not merely cosmetic. So called “presenteeism”, where managers work longer
hours for show, even where they do not need to, is not viewed as a problem in CEE. The results in
Romania, Slovakia and Bulgaria are not significant. Competition among managers to show off just how
much they (apparently) work is not part of this culture.

39  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Managers and the market 
“On the customer service issue, people would like to give customers good service, and
everyone talks about it, but there is no concrete image behind these nice ambitions.” [French
manager in Slovakia]

“Regarding sales, [Bulgarian Managers] are, simply, just awful! Because... they never did or
had to do any in the near past!” [Greek manager]

“Czechs [are] not [very] customer oriented and often [display] hard, unfriendly behaviour in
the hospitality and tourism industry.” [Swiss manager]

“Sales are more aggressive than in Western Europe”. “Long term commercial thinking is
missing.” “This market still needs to develop a higher quality on service culture.” [German,
Finnish and French managers in Poland]

Managers here understand  their competitive  Ranking of mean response


markets very well
40% Czech Republic

30%
Poland

20%
Hungary
10%
Slovakia
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Romania
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

On the whole, managers in CEE have a good understanding of their competitive markets. The
exception is Bulgaria, with 53% disagreeing. In the other countries, agreement is significant but hardly
enthusiastic: the best is the Czech Republic with 66% agreement (31% emphatic) and Poland, Hungary
and Slovakia range down to 54% (with around a quarter expressing marked agreement). The result in
Romania is neutral – the small positive result is not significant.

40 
TARGET International Executive Search

Local management is dedicated  to excellent  Ranking of mean response


customer service
40% Poland

30%
Slovakia

20%
Czech Republic
10%
Hungary
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Romania
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

The comments about poor customer service appearing at the beginning of this section are typical. We
saw above that business and commerce are most emphatically not customer service oriented and this
reflects a similar finding here that managers are not dedicated to excellent customer service. Even
in the most customer and sales oriented country, Poland, a mere 8% of replies expressed strong or
decided agreement. In Bulgaria, a huge 81% disagree, 55% markedly. These two statements about
customer service are among the worst ranked in the questionnaire (42nd and 35th out of 44,
respectively).

Managers in this country  tend to  be excellent at  Ranking of mean response


selling
40% Poland

30%
Romania

20%
Hungary
10%
Slovakia
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Czech Republic
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

The findings on selling skills are also not encouraging and managers do not tend to be excellent at
selling. In Poland and Romania, the response is statistically neutral, in the remaining countries it is
definitively negative, with the total negative response ranging from 57% in Hungary to 66% in
Bulgaria.

41  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

There is a strong entrepreneurial  spirit  among  Ranking of mean response


managers here
40% Poland

30%
Romania

20%
Czech Republic
10%
Bulgaria
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Hungary
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Slovakia
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

The lack of commercial orientation is underpinned by the fact that managers to do not have a strong
entrepreneurial spirit. While in Poland and Romania, the mean responses were neutral, in the
remaining countries, replies were significantly negative, with the worst response, perhaps surprisingly,
in Slovakia (60% disagreement).

Good personal  relationships  with customers  are  Ranking of mean response


essential to business culture  here
50% Hungary
40%
Slovakia
30%

20% Romania

10% Poland
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Bulgaria
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Czech Republic
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

Nevertheless, there are good reasons to believe that this position can change, since good personal
relationships with customers are essential to business in all six countries, with agreement levels
ranging from 71% to 79%. Indeed, this finding ties in with the even stronger response on the
importance of friendship with colleagues and customers we saw earlier. These two statements ranked
very highly too, at 5th and 3rd places respectively 26 .

Relationships with other cultures are not always as positive as they could be. While most managers
speak at least one foreign language (in Romania this was the top ranked statement with an amazing
92% agreement, 82% markedly so) 27 , they do not use this skill very productively in practice, since

26
See Appendix 2
27
See Appendix 4 for detailed figures on respondents’ reported language skills.

42 
TARGET International Executive Search

Most local managers speak at least one  foreign  Ranking of mean response


language
50% Romania
40%
Czech Republic
30%

20% Slovakia

10% Hungary
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Poland
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

managers are not very good at dealing with overseas customers and colleagues. The responses
range from a 56% negative (26% markedly) in Romania to 71% (38%) in Bulgaria. Looking at the
question more broadly, only in Romania are managers good at understanding and adapting to
different business cultures. In Poland and the Czech Republic, the response is neutral; in Slovakia,
Bulgaria and Hungary there is a significant negative finding (55%, 62% and 62% disagreement,
respectively). Looking at these three items together, we note that Romania is in an especially strong
position, being top ranked on each question, clearly supporting the idea that Romanians have much
stronger skills in cultural adaptation.

Local managers are good at dealing with  overseas  Ranking of mean response


customers and  colleagues 
40% Romania

30%
Poland

20%
Slovakia
10%
Czech Republic
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Hungary
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree
Managers are good  at understanding  and adapting  Ranking of mean response
to different  business cultures 
50% Romania
40%
Poland
30%

20% Czech Republic

10% Slovakia
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Bulgaria
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Hungary
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree
43  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Senior managers are highly focused  on satisfying  Ranking of mean response


shareholder  needs
40% Slovakia

30%
Poland

20%
Romania
10%
Czech Republic
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Hungary
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

Finally, in this section on managers and the market, there is no clear finding on whether senior
managers are focused on shareholder needs. For three countries – Romania, Czech Republic and
Hungary, the mean response is neutral; in Slovakia and Poland there is a slightly positive view (55%
and 56% agreement) but in Bulgaria the analysis tends to the negative (55% disagreement).

44 
TARGET International Executive Search

Transparency and cross cultural issues 
“[It is] still difficult to avoid corruption in business relations” [French manager in Slovakia]

“I can do my business without bribing but you have to be patient, stay friendly, keep on
smiling and act stupid (don't pay). [Dutch manager, Bulgaria]

“Women are much more trustworthy and have [a greater] ethic[al] understanding” [Austrian
manager (male) in Hungary].

“...in Hungary, women are much more responsible than men. They work harder than their
colleagues, they don´t discuss a lot, they do it. Men, in whichever field I am looking into, love
to discuss and make philosophical comments but they forget to work and I suppose they are
not even interested in working, especially not hard work.” [Austrian manager (female)]

“There is a huge gap in post communist countries between male and female style, dedication
skills etc [even though] ...women... are paid less.” [Israeli manager (male) in Poland]

Corruption is still a very significant problem, most acutely in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania.
Indeed this question was one of the worst ranked in these three countries (40th, 40th and 38th,
respectively, out of 44). In Bulgaria the situation is dire with an 82% negative response, including 43%
of respondents choosing “Strongly agree” for the statement that corruption is a significant problem in
doing business. In Hungary and Romania the figures are not so much better (73% agreement, 26%
strongly agree for Hungary and 78%, 23% strongly for Romania. Corruption is definitely still a
problem in the Czech Republic (56% agreement) and undecided in Slovakia – hardly a clean bill of
health. Only in Poland was there a clear finding that corruption is not a significant problem for business
(65% positive).

Based on our own experience and a good deal of anecdotal evidence we decided, perhaps
controversially, to add in a question about the relative merits of female managers. The results show that
we were right to do so. We can now state that in CEE, on the whole, women tend to be more
effective managers than men. This question was the 7th highest ranked out of 44. Even in the

45  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

On the  whole women here  tend  to be more  Ranking of mean response


effective managers than their  male counterparts
40% Bulgaria

30%
Romania

20%
Poland
10%
Hungary
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Slovakia
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Czech Republic
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary
Strongly Strongly 
Poland Romania Slovakia disagree agree

Czech Republic, where the finding is weakest, there is 56% agreement; in Bulgaria that figure goes up
to 76%.

Managers here do  place much  value on  which  Ranking of mean response


company they work  for*
40% Slovakia

30%
Czech Republic

20%
Poland
10%
Hungary
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Romania
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Bulgaria
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

Company loyalty divides the CEE countries into two clear groups. In Bulgaria, Romania and
Hungary, managers do not place much value on which company they work for; in Poland, Czech
Republic and Slovakia, there is a neutral response – in these countries company loyalty may not be
a strong force but nor is it of no value to managers. In Bulgaria, 69% of respondents agreed to the

Managers in this country  are not overpaid  for  Ranking of mean response


their levels of experience and  qualifications*
40% Czech Republic

30%
Bulgaria

20%
Hungary
10%
Slovakia
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Poland
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Romania
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

46 
TARGET International Executive Search

proposition that there is not much value to managers in the identity of the company. In Romania and
Hungary the figures are 64% and 59%. With the exception of Romania, expatriate managers do
not think that local managers are overpaid for their levels of experience and qualifications. The
response in Poland was neutral but in Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic there was a
significant positive response, ranging from 59% to 68% agreement levels. In Romania, the view is the
opposite, with 67% disagreement, including a high level (47%) of marked disagreement, which is
significantly more emphatic than any of the other positive results.

Local managers do not  resent the  presence  of  Ranking of mean response


expatriate managers*
40% Slovakia

30%
Bulgaria

20%
Czech Republic
10%
Romania
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Poland
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Hungary
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

Local managers do not  think  that expatriate  Ranking of mean response


managers are overpaid*
40% Slovakia

30%
Romania

20%
Bulgaria
10%
Czech Republic
0%
Strongly  Disagree Mildly  Mildly Agree Strongly  Poland
Disagree disagree agree Agree
Hungary
Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia Strongly Strongly 
disagree agree

The statement that local managers resent the presence of expatriate managers raised only a
lukewarm reaction. In four countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland and Romania), the result
showed no significant response, either positive or negative. In Slovakia, there was a rejection of this
idea, with 52% disagreeing. Only in Hungary do expatriates believe that local managers resent them,
with 64% in agreement (and local managers questioned there confirm this opinion). At the same time,
the expatriate respondents are clearly of the opinion that local managers think that expatriate
managers are overpaid. This statement was ranked 40th most negative out of 44. In five countries
there was around 80% agreement (76% to 82%); in Slovakia the effect was slightly less marked at
65%. The local managers who responded agreed with expats in all countries for both of these
statements.

47  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

 Appendix 1 – Responses to questionnaire 
Figures shown are percentages  Bulgaria       

Strongly disagree 

Mildly disagree 

Strongly agree 
Mildly agree 
Disagree 
Questions 

Agree 
(For the purposes of comparison, questions with an asterisk are reversed from the form in the 
questionnaire, as are their responses) 
 I enjoy living here   2  6  15  21  38  17 
 I enjoy working here   4  6  9  29  42  10 
Bureaucracy is a not serious problem in this country*  43  24  15  10  5  2 
Local companies usually have a clear business strategy  16  38  24  14  6  1 
The business environment here is very active and dynamic  5  9  20  29  27  10 
In this country business and commerce are highly customer service oriented   31  39  16  10  2  2 
Business is generally very well organised and efficient   17  50  21  9  2  0 
Deadlines and timetables are taken seriously in business here   23  53  15  6  1  1 
Humour is important in working relationships in this country  5  12  19  31  26  7 
It is important here to make friendships with colleagues and customers  5  2  5  21  43  23 
It is easy to find well‐trained managers in this country  42  28  16  5  4  5 
We could recruit better managers if we could pay them more  10  27  17  17  19  9 
Local managers work well in teams  11  30  31  19  7  2 
Managers are cooperative, rather than individualistic, in their thinking*  19  29  21  17  10  3 
Hierarchies here tend to be informal  14  36  19  16  13  1 
Local managers welcome responsibility  18  28  20  23  7  3 
Communication with and between managers is not too formal*  5  23  15  33  17  6 
Managers like to take a wide, strategic view  21  27  29  14  7  2 
Managers in this country are very flexible and adaptable   17  31  24  19  8  0 
Ambitious managers are admired  3  11  29  29  23  5 
Managers here prefer to work in a planned way  9  21  20  28  15  6 
Managers are good at dealing with unexpected situations  16  31  21  14  16  1 
Strong interpersonal skills in managers are highly valued here  7  10  26  26  23  8 
Creativity in problem solving is a strong local management characteristic   22  22  19  18  16  1 
Managers like to take the initiative in preventing and solving problems  21  30  28  15  4  2 
Decisions agreed in meetings are usually accepted and acted upon  10  26  21  28  13  2 
Managers in this country work hard   10  13  24  32  19  1 
Local managers are concentrated and efficient with their time  18  28  32  17  5  0 
There is not a culture of "presenteeism" (working long hours 'for show') *  7  17  15  31  16  13 
Managers here understand their competitive markets very well   7  21  24  32  15  0 
Local management is dedicated to excellent customer service  20  35  26  17  1  1 
Good personal relationships with customers are essential to business culture here  4  13  10  15  37  20 
Managers in this country tend to be excellent at selling  10  18  38  26  8  0 
Local managers are good at dealing with overseas customers and colleagues   13  24  34  19  8  1 
Most local managers speak at least one foreign language  4  12  12  21  31  19 
Managers are good at understanding and adapting to different business cultures   12  21  29  23  12  2 
There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit among managers here  10  19  28  22  18  2 
Senior managers are highly focused on satisfying shareholder needs  12  22  20  30  14  1 
Corruption is not a significant problem in doing business here*  43  26  13  5  9  4 
On the whole women here tend to be more effective managers than their male counterparts  3  6  15  20  29  27 
Managers here do  place much value on which company they work for*  12  32  26  14  13  3 
Local managers do not resent the presence of expatriate managers*  4  18  34  19  18  6 
Managers in this country are not overpaid for their levels of experience and qualifications*  7  16  16  28  19  13 
Local managers do not think that expatriate managers are overpaid*  24  29  29  11  5  2 

48 
TARGET International Executive Search

Czech Republic  Hungary  Poland  Romania  Slovakia 


Strongly disagree 

Strongly disagree 

Strongly disagree 

Strongly disagree 

Strongly disagree 
Mildly disagree 

Mildly disagree 

Mildly disagree 

Mildly disagree 

Mildly disagree 
Strongly agree 

Strongly agree 

Strongly agree 

Strongly agree 

Strongly agree 
Mildly agree 

Mildly agree 

Mildly agree 

Mildly agree 

Mildly agree 
Disagree 

Disagree 

Disagree 

Disagree 

Disagree 
Agree 

Agree 

Agree 

Agree 

Agree 
0  0  8  14  43  35  1  3  7  18  42  26  0  1  4  27  39  30  1  7  8  37  38  8  1  3  8  19  46  19 
1  1  2  26  47  22  1  5  11  25  38  17  0  1  6  23  46  25  0  6  8  19  49  18  1  2  3  15  49  26 
12  30  31  20  7  1  32  30  17  11  4  1  21  31  27  14  6  0  33  31  20  10  2  3  11  22  32  19  10  2 
3  23  41  23  10  0  9  29  34  22  2  1  1  21  36  33  9  0  6  35  35  20  3  1  3  22  35  24  10  2 
1  6  12  35  38  8  4  19  30  26  14  3  0  3  8  24  49  17  1  8  9  23  35  24  0  8  16  24  33  15 
22  33  24  17  4  0  25  36  23  9  4  1  7  25  32  27  8  0  21  39  26  9  3  1  16  37  23  13  5  2 
3  25  41  26  4  1  13  36  34  10  2  1  4  23  40  23  9  0  15  43  31  10  1  0  3  28  40  18  6  1 
6  17  31  26  17  3  15  33  24  17  7  1  7  27  23  27  15  0  26  34  28  9  3  0  9  27  26  22  10  1 
7  17  18  35  20  3  5  11  25  30  19  6  4  17  22  34  21  3  5  11  21  27  27  9  4  13  21  25  28  5 
1  8  12  31  40  8  0  3  9  24  42  19  2  6  15  29  35  13  1  5  11  21  47  15  1  2  12  22  34  24 
13  43  26  11  6  1  16  32  31  12  6  0  11  29  28  21  10  1  27  36  19  10  5  3  24  36  21  11  2  2 
7  30  21  24  14  5  6  15  21  27  20  7  3  13  25  20  29  11  9  22  26  20  19  3  8  22  23  20  17  5 
2  24  23  36  13  1  5  18  32  28  12  1  3  15  37  27  16  1  5  19  37  26  11  2  4  15  28  33  14  1 
3  35  24  22  14  1  9  29  25  21  12  1  1  36  27  23  11  2  7  35  26  20  11  1  2  29  25  27  12  0 
9  48  25  10  8  1  3  35  22  21  12  3  14  37  23  14  11  2  14  33  28  17  8  1  13  41  17  13  10  2 
6  28  29  19  15  3  11  26  28  18  14  0  4  19  31  31  15  0  7  32  32  19  9  1  5  24  23  30  11  2 
1  24  22  33  18  2  2  13  22  30  22  7  5  27  26  25  15  2  5  15  26  28  25  2  4  20  25  25  17  3 
8  36  30  16  8  2  9  41  28  11  7  0  5  27  42  20  6  1  8  38  39  9  5  1  6  31  33  23  2  1 
8  36  28  15  11  2  9  27  33  18  7  2  8  21  32  17  20  2  7  22  30  23  15  3  3  24  27  23  15  3 
3  17  10  33  35  1  3  12  25  28  23  4  2  6  23  30  34  6  1  10  15  31  36  7  2  12  18  34  26  3 
1  8  10  31  40  8  3  15  20  32  25  3  1  13  22  33  28  4  6  22  30  20  15  7  1  11  21  27  30  6 
8  37  22  20  9  4  8  25  25  20  16  3  5  23  23  28  18  2  7  24  26  18  19  6  5  26  28  21  12  3 
2  17  19  27  31  3  3  11  24  27  28  4  1  9  27  37  20  6  5  15  17  35  20  8  4  12  20  32  19  8 
10  30  22  22  8  7  10  26  22  19  16  4  11  25  20  20  20  3  9  31  19  22  15  4  12  29  20  20  11  4 
10  29  36  15  8  1  10  32  32  17  5  0  11  31  30  19  9  1  10  35  31  17  6  1  7  34  29  16  8  1 
3  16  17  26  35  3  7  20  21  29  16  2  2  13  30  23  28  4  4  22  28  20  22  4  3  7  21  30  30  5 
1  8  19  34  27  10  6  17  22  24  24  4  3  10  17  27  35  8  3  11  15  24  38  9  3  8  16  31  29  8 
3  18  37  29  13  0  7  25  34  22  8  0  3  17  32  28  17  4  10  31  30  22  6  1  4  20  26  33  12  1 
3  13  24  26  26  8  5  16  22  21  20  12  1  14  26  19  24  15  9  21  20  28  18  3  7  15  20  23  25  5 
2  12  20  34  31  1  2  13  26  26  28  1  2  11  23  37  26  1  2  13  31  33  19  2  3  10  29  30  21  3 
13  28  24  22  13  2  13  26  25  22  9  2  5  19  35  34  7  1  12  33  33  14  6  2  9  22  33  20  8  3 
1  11  14  24  35  15  3  6  9  20  35  22  1  5  15  30  40  9  3  10  10  19  41  17  1  7  11  24  34  17 
6  25  29  31  8  1  9  17  32  29  10  1  2  13  35  31  18  0  6  19  27  31  14  3  6  20  34  27  8  1 
7  28  33  20  11  1  12  22  28  26  7  1  4  22  37  27  8  1  4  22  31  33  8  3  6  22  35  25  6  1 
1  6  7  15  43  28  5  4  18  11  36  21  4  10  8  24  35  20  1  3  3  11  40  42  2  10  8  19  29  28 
2  17  35  31  11  3  8  25  29  24  10  1  1  15  37  33  11  2  1  13  21  43  19  3  6  19  31  27  12  1 
3  26  27  31  10  3  8  21  30  22  11  4  3  18  27  31  16  6  6  19  24  29  18  4  6  23  30  21  13  2 
5  19  22  33  19  1  6  16  32  24  16  3  4  12  29  28  22  6  3  17  26  26  22  4  3  13  24  23  28  4 
15  19  22  19  19  6  26  28  18  11  10  3  3  15  16  32  27  6  23  31  24  10  11  1  9  22  20  19  19  7 
6  10  28  24  24  8  6  5  27  28  16  14  0  11  23  30  26  10  3  6  19  24  30  17  4  7  25  31  17  11 
5  24  22  18  28  4  12  20  27  17  17  4  7  22  25  18  21  6  13  28  24  18  17  1  4  21  22  24  17  7 
6  13  32  29  16  3  8  22  34  19  11  3  5  21  30  26  14  4  7  20  27  22  20  3  4  13  26  24  20  8 
4  10  17  37  26  6  6  10  21  32  20  7  7  18  22  31  15  6  20  27  20  17  13  2  6  14  15  30  22  8 
22  34  23  17  3  1  26  35  18  13  4  0  21  37  24  12  6  0  21  32  23  19  3  1  19  21  26  19  7  4 

49  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Appendix 2 – Ranking of questions 
 
Rankings (based on mean response to each question), ordered by mean   
across 6 countries   Overall rankings  Rank in each country 

Mean response* 

Czech Republic 
Rank overall 

Mean rank 

Romania 
Hungary 

Slovakia 
Bulgaria 

Poland 
Question 

 
 I enjoy working here   1 2.3 1.22   4  2  3 2 2 1
 I enjoy living here   2 2.3 1.23   3  1  1 1 6 2
It is important here to make friendships with colleagues and customers 3 3.3 1.02   1  4  2 6 4 3
Most local managers speak at least one foreign language  4 3.8 1.07   6  3  5 4 1 4
Good personal relationships with customers are essential to business culture here 5 5.2 0.85   5  7  4 5 5 5
The business environment here is very active and dynamic 6 7.3 0.65   7  6  19 3 3 6
On the whole women here tend to be more effective managers than their male 
7  8.2  0.49    2  15  6  9  7  10 
counterparts 
Managers in this country work hard  8 10.2 0.40   15  8  15 7 9 7
Ambitious managers are admired  9 10.3 0.37   10  12  13 8 8 11
Strong interpersonal skills in managers are highly valued here 10 11.7 0.29   11  14  7 14 12 12
Managers here prefer to work in a planned way  11 12.0 0.29   17  5  11 12 19 8
Humour is important in working relationships in this country 12 13.2 0.21   8  16  14 18 10 13
There is not a culture of "presenteeism" (working long hours 'for show') ** 13 13.7 0.21   12  11  10 10 21 18
Managers here understand their competitive markets very well  14 14.8 0.17   18  13  12 15 14 17
Decisions agreed in meetings are usually accepted and acted upon 15 15.0 0.12   20  10  18 16 17 9
Managers in this country are not overpaid for their levels of experience and 
16  15.8  0.09    9  9  9  22  32  14 
qualifications** 
Communication with and between managers is not too formal** 17 17.3 0.02   13  18  8 31 13 21
Senior managers are highly focused on satisfying shareholder needs 18  17.5  0.02    21  19  17  17  15  16 
We could recruit better managers if we could pay them more 19 19.3 ‐0.04   16  27  16 11 23 23
Local managers do not resent the presence of expatriate managers** 20 20.3 ‐0.08   14  20  27 28 18 15
There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit among managers here 21 21.7 ‐0.18   19  25  21 19 16 30
Managers are good at understanding and adapting to different business cultures  22 22.0 ‐0.17   22  22  28 23 11 26
Managers here do  place much value on which company they work for** 23 22.7 ‐0.19   24  17  23 25 28 19
Local managers work well in teams  24 23.0 ‐0.19   25  23  20 24 26 20
Managers in this country tend to be excellent at selling  25 25.2 ‐0.28   23  31  24 21 20 32
Local managers are concentrated and efficient with their time 26 27.2 ‐0.37   34  24  30 20 31 24
Managers are good at dealing with unexpected situations 27 27.3 ‐0.33   27  36  22 26 22 31
Local managers welcome responsibility  28 28.7 ‐0.39   29  28  31 27 30 27
Corruption is not a significant problem in doing business here** 29 29.8 ‐0.47   40  26  40 13 38 22
Creativity in problem solving is a strong local management characteristic  30 30.2 ‐0.41   28  32  25 33 27 36
Managers in this country are very flexible and adaptable   31 30.3 ‐0.41   32  37  33 30 25 25
Managers are cooperative, rather than individualistic, in their thinking** 32 30.5 ‐0.44   31  30  29 36 29 28
Local managers are good at dealing with overseas customers and colleagues  33 30.5 ‐0.43   26  34  32 34 24 33
Local companies usually have a clear business strategy  34 31.7 ‐0.50   35  29  35 29 33 29
Local management is dedicated to excellent customer service 35 34.7 ‐0.57   38  35  34 32 35 34
Deadlines and timetables are taken seriously in business here  36 35.8 ‐0.68   44  21  37 35 43 35
Hierarchies here tend to be informal 37 36.2 ‐0.70   30  41  26 42 36 42
Managers like to take the initiative in preventing and solving problems 38 37.5 ‐0.70   36  39  36 41 34 39
Managers like to take a wide, strategic view  39 37.7 ‐0.73   33  38  38 39 37 41
Business is generally very well organised and efficient   40 38.0 ‐0.75   39  33  41 37 40 38
Local managers do not think that expatriate managers are overpaid** 41 41.0 ‐0.96   37  44  42 44 39 40
In this country business and commerce are highly customer service oriented  42 41.5 ‐1.00   41  43  43 38 41 43
It is easy to find well‐trained managers in this country  43 41.5 ‐1.00   42  42  39 40 42 44
Bureaucracy is a not serious problem in this country**  44 41.8 ‐0.96   43  40  44 43 44 37
 
*The values attributed to responses for statistical calculations run from ‐2.5 (Strongly disagree)
   to +2.5 (Strongly agree). Thus a mean of 0 means e neutral response.
 
**Questions (and responses) reversed from the original form in the questionnaire

50 
Comparison of Average Expatiate (Av.E) and Local (Av.L) manager responses
Significance of difference [Sig.(P)] using a 2‐tailed T‐Test
Bold Red indicates a significant difference at P > 0.90 Bulgaria Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Slovakia
Question Av.E Av,L Sig.(P) Av.E Av,L Sig.(P) Av.E Av,L Sig.(P) Av.E Av,L Sig.(P) Av.E Av,L Sig.(P) Av.E Av,L Sig.(P)
 I enjoy living here  0.89 0.09 0.96 1.56 0.79 0.89 1.26 1.09 0.43 1.42 0.52 0.95 0.78 0.14 0.89 1.15 1.14 0.16
 I enjoy working here  0.79 0.07 0.93 1.35 0.66 0.86 0.96 0.82 0.34 1.37 0.61 0.91 1.15 0.25 0.96 1.41 1.03 0.71
Bureaucracy is a not serious problem in this country* ‐1.34 ‐0.37 0.98 ‐0.67 0.05 0.95 ‐1.20 ‐0.91 0.58 ‐0.96 ‐0.20 0.97 ‐1.25 ‐0.39 0.97 ‐0.49 ‐0.54 0.08
Local companies usually have a clear business strategy ‐0.91 ‐0.96 0.11 ‐0.35 ‐0.79 0.79 ‐0.66 ‐0.28 0.67 ‐0.21 ‐0.32 0.24 ‐0.68 ‐0.86 0.38 ‐0.26 ‐0.18 0.22
The business environment here is very active and dynamic 0.43 0.06 0.67 0.74 0.12 0.88 ‐0.12 0.22 0.68 1.19 0.27 0.99 1.05 0.44 0.86 0.78 0.86 0.13
In this country business and commerce are highly customer service oriented  ‐1.30 ‐0.85 0.81 ‐1.03 ‐0.52 0.83 ‐1.16 ‐0.08 1.00 ‐0.45 ‐0.09 0.66 ‐1.10 ‐0.92 0.41 ‐0.89 ‐0.07 0.98
Business is generally very well organised and efficient  ‐1.21 ‐1.04 0.36 ‐0.46 ‐0.46 0.01 ‐0.94 ‐0.21 0.94 ‐0.40 ‐0.23 0.36 ‐1.09 ‐0.78 0.61 ‐0.49 ‐0.16 0.63
Deadlines and timetables are taken seriously in business here  ‐1.39 ‐1.07 0.59 ‐0.09 ‐0.32 0.49 ‐0.78 0.08 0.98 ‐0.33 ‐0.04 0.57 ‐1.19 ‐0.75 0.79 ‐0.47 0.09 0.87
Humour is important in working relationships in this country 0.31 0.07 0.45 0.05 0.23 0.33 0.19 0.66 0.77 0.11 0.29 0.33 0.38 0.35 0.05 0.26 0.28 0.00
It is important here to make friendships with colleagues and customers 1.15 0.57 0.78 0.76 0.54 0.37 1.12 1.05 0.18 0.77 0.61 0.29 1.01 0.37 0.88 1.11 1.00 0.29
It is easy to find well‐trained managers in this country ‐1.33 ‐1.13 0.34 ‐0.93 ‐0.92 0.03 ‐0.88 0.16 1.00 ‐0.58 ‐0.14 0.77 ‐1.12 ‐0.80 0.56 ‐1.13 ‐0.32 0.98
We could recruit better managers if we could pay them more ‐0.13 ‐0.33 0.37 ‐0.28 ‐0.19 0.18 0.12 0.81 0.91 0.40 0.39 0.02 ‐0.20 ‐0.22 0.03 ‐0.16 0.37 0.84
Local managers work well in teams ‐0.62 ‐0.65 0.05 ‐0.12 ‐0.15 0.07 ‐0.21 0.43 0.86 ‐0.06 0.21 0.52 ‐0.25 ‐0.20 0.10 ‐0.07 0.41 0.72
Managers are cooperative, rather than individualistic, in their thinking* ‐0.70 ‐0.22 0.69 ‐0.38 ‐0.05 0.58 ‐0.47 ‐0.45 0.06 ‐0.39 0.05 0.75 ‐0.55 0.14 0.91 ‐0.31 ‐0.25 0.07
Hierarchies here tend to be informal ‐0.68 ‐0.35 0.56 ‐0.89 ‐0.17 0.89 ‐0.35 0.03 0.67 ‐0.73 ‐0.13 0.86 ‐0.76 ‐0.41 0.60 ‐0.78 0.09 0.98
Local managers welcome responsibility ‐0.67 ‐0.17 0.76 ‐0.32 ‐0.10 0.40 ‐0.49 0.52 0.99 ‐0.14 0.30 0.69 ‐0.55 ‐0.27 0.48 ‐0.23 0.51 0.93
Communication with and between managers is not too formal* 0.02 0.33 0.53 ‐0.02 0.37 0.62 0.30 0.12 0.34 ‐0.25 0.57 0.94 0.10 0.41 0.51 ‐0.08 0.22 0.55
Managers like to take a wide, strategic view ‐0.85 ‐0.15 0.88 ‐0.65 ‐0.10 0.79 ‐0.83 0.44 1.00 ‐0.54 0.23 0.89 ‐0.84 ‐0.41 0.65 ‐0.62 0.20 0.96
Managers in this country are very flexible and adaptable  ‐0.80 ‐0.06 0.89 ‐0.60 0.15 0.89 ‐0.55 0.30 0.97 ‐0.23 0.50 0.86 ‐0.24 0.22 0.66 ‐0.17 0.70 0.96
Ambitious managers are admired 0.23 0.33 0.16 0.33 0.01 0.51 0.20 0.66 0.70 0.55 0.43 0.20 0.61 0.42 0.29 0.30 0.76 0.63
Managers here prefer to work in a planned way ‐0.13 ‐0.20 0.12 0.76 0.21 0.72 0.20 0.44 0.36 0.36 0.36 0.00 ‐0.13 ‐0.14 0.03 0.47 0.53 0.07
Managers are good at dealing with unexpected situations ‐0.63 0.09 0.85 ‐0.53 0.52 0.95 ‐0.27 0.59 0.96 ‐0.12 0.57 0.81 ‐0.15 0.25 0.56 ‐0.30 0.45 0.93
Strong interpersonal skills in managers are highly valued here 0.22 0.17 0.09 0.29 0.39 0.15 0.30 0.81 0.72 0.32 0.57 0.39 0.23 0.63 0.55 0.29 0.88 0.80
Creativity in problem solving is a strong local management characteristic  ‐0.63 0.07 0.83 ‐0.41 0.61 0.94 ‐0.31 1.14 1.00 ‐0.30 0.50 0.87 ‐0.33 0.59 0.90 ‐0.47 0.36 0.93
Managers like to take the initiative in preventing and solving problems ‐0.93 0.02 0.91 ‐0.66 0.10 0.85 ‐0.74 0.55 1.00 ‐0.63 0.41 0.95 ‐0.70 0.05 0.83 ‐0.59 0.34 0.95
Decisions agreed in meetings are usually accepted and acted upon ‐0.36 0.04 0.52 0.35 0.52 0.24 ‐0.17 0.32 0.69 0.25 0.61 0.48 ‐0.04 0.25 0.40 0.44 0.83 0.51
Appendix 3 – Expatriate vs. Local Comparison 

Managers in this country work hard  ‐0.10 0.43 0.65 0.56 0.74 0.24 0.07 1.28 0.98 0.56 0.93 0.48 0.60 0.52 0.11 0.52 1.32 0.80
Local managers are concentrated and efficient with their time ‐0.87 ‐0.13 0.80 ‐0.18 0.03 0.26 ‐0.48 0.37 0.92 0.00 0.39 0.52 ‐0.67 ‐0.08 0.68 ‐0.18 0.62 0.89
There is not a culture of "presenteeism" (working long hours 'for show') * 0.21 ‐0.15 0.46 0.34 ‐0.12 0.57 0.22 ‐0.55 0.92 0.46 0.09 0.49 ‐0.14 ‐0.10 0.05 0.12 ‐0.46 0.78
Managers here understand their competitive markets very well  ‐0.23 0.11 0.42 0.33 0.52 0.23 0.22 0.95 0.86 0.28 0.93 0.66 0.10 0.42 0.39 0.17 0.83 0.76
Local management is dedicated to excellent customer service ‐1.03 ‐0.15 0.84 ‐0.50 0.30 0.80 ‐0.56 0.66 0.99 ‐0.29 0.57 0.83 ‐0.74 0.01 0.76 ‐0.41 0.50 0.93
Good personal relationships with customers are essential to business culture here 0.79 0.96 0.21 0.74 0.97 0.28 0.97 1.37 0.55 0.80 1.05 0.31 0.85 0.86 0.01 0.87 1.16 0.39
Managers in this country tend to be excellent at selling ‐0.47 0.22 0.71 ‐0.39 0.34 0.72 ‐0.30 0.75 0.95 0.00 0.75 0.75 ‐0.13 0.35 0.52 ‐0.35 0.74 0.96
Local managers are good at dealing with overseas customers and colleagues  ‐0.62 0.19 0.77 ‐0.47 0.19 0.68 ‐0.53 0.46 0.94 ‐0.30 0.57 0.81 ‐0.22 0.58 0.75 ‐0.41 0.53 0.90
Most local managers speak at least one foreign language 0.70 0.74 0.04 1.26 0.94 0.36 0.86 1.03 0.18 0.87 0.95 0.09 1.60 1.35 0.26 0.97 1.39 0.48
Managers are good at understanding and adapting to different business cultures  ‐0.42 0.19 0.61 ‐0.10 0.57 0.66 ‐0.43 0.52 0.92 ‐0.06 0.64 0.69 0.26 0.75 0.50 ‐0.24 0.78 0.92
There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit among managers here ‐0.24 0.17 0.42 ‐0.23 0.59 0.72 ‐0.29 0.77 0.95 0.07 0.77 0.67 ‐0.03 0.61 0.61 ‐0.31 0.64 0.88
Senior managers are highly focused on satisfying shareholder needs ‐0.36 0.44 0.72 ‐0.04 0.46 0.51 ‐0.13 1.14 0.97 0.20 0.77 0.57 0.09 0.67 0.55 0.24 1.09 0.86
Corruption is not a significant problem in doing business here* ‐1.26 ‐1.09 0.16 ‐0.24 ‐0.65 0.42 ‐0.90 ‐1.22 0.41 0.33 ‐0.20 0.54 ‐0.90 ‐0.52 0.39 ‐0.11 ‐0.78 0.77
On the whole women here tend to be more effective managers than their male counterparts 0.95 0.54 0.40 0.22 0.26 0.05 0.36 0.49 0.14 0.50 0.48 0.02 0.74 0.46 0.28 0.36 0.84 0.56
Managers here do  place much value on which company they work for* ‐0.56 ‐0.15 0.40 0.03 0.06 0.04 ‐0.30 ‐0.21 0.12 ‐0.06 ‐0.07 0.01 ‐0.47 ‐0.08 0.37 0.03 ‐0.11 0.20
Local managers do not resent the presence of expatriate managers* ‐0.02 ‐0.19 0.16 ‐0.04 ‐0.28 0.24 ‐0.39 ‐0.54 0.17 ‐0.14 ‐0.11 0.03 ‐0.11 ‐0.18 0.07 0.22 ‐0.20 0.52
TARGET International Executive Search

Managers in this country are not overpaid for their levels of experience and qualifications* 0.26 0.50 0.23 0.36 0.34 0.02 0.23 0.25 0.02 ‐0.01 0.46 0.44 ‐0.67 0.08 0.64 0.23 0.03 0.29
Local managers do not think that expatriate managers are overpaid* ‐1.00 ‐1.02 0.02 ‐1.03 ‐0.95 0.07 ‐1.14 ‐1.48 0.39 ‐1.06 ‐0.75 0.30 ‐0.93 ‐0.97 0.04 ‐0.62 ‐1.37 0.72

51  
*Question reversed from that  used in questionnaire (and also reponses)
Question responses are attributed evenly spread values from ‐2.5 (Strongly Disagree) to +2.5 (Strongly Agree). Thus, a negative mean indicates overall disagreement, a positive value overall agreement and close to zero means a neutral position.
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Appendix 4 – Information about respondents and methodology 

Demographic data 

Czech Republic 
Czech Republic 

Other data

Totals / mean 
 Nationality 
 

Romania 
Hungary 

Slovakia 
Bulgaria 
Romania 
Hungary 

Slovakia 
Bulgaria 

Poland 
Poland 
Expatriate 
Total 
managers 
French  6  21  26  50  25  24  152  Sample size  97  143  186  140  144  188  898 
German  10  21  48  15  15  18  127  Ownership               
Austrian  10  14  33  8  19  26  110 
British  17  20  20  11  13  21  102  Majority local  19%  17%  8%  15%  10%  12%  13% 
USA  6  10  12  5  9  10  52  ≥ 50% Foreign  81%  83%  92%  85%  90%  88%  87% 
Dutch  11  8  7  1  3  8  38 
Organisation size               
Italian  3  5  3  12  4  11  38 
Greek  15  0  2  1  11  0  29  < 10 people  29%  11%  14%  5%  5%  7%  11% 
Belgian  1  3  3  3  5  12  27  10 to 99  39%  38%  29%  27%  19%  26%  29% 
Danish  1  2  1  5  2  9  20 
Swiss  2  3  0  2  7  6  20 
100 to 1000  22%  37%  39%  37%  41%  41%  37% 
Swedish  2  3  1  1  1  5  13  > 1000  10%  13%  17%  31%  35%  26%  23% 
Czech  0  0  0  0  3  9  12  Years worked in the country 
Slovak  1  6  2  1  1  0  11 
Irish  1  4  3  1  0  1  10  < 1 year  9%  9%  10%  9%  11%  9%  9% 
Romanian  4  2  2  0  0  2  10  1 to 5  53%  38%  41%  50%  60%  59%  50% 
Polish  0  0  4  0  0  5  9 
> 5  38%  53%  50%  41%  29%  32%  41% 
Finnish  0  2  2  4  1  0  9 
Australian  1  2  2  1  0  2  8  Education level               
Canadian  0  5  1  0  0  2  8  High school  5%  7%  9%  6%  6%  13%  8% 
Israeli  1  2  0  1  3  1  8 
Russian  0  0  1  5  1  1  8 
Degree  31%  30%  24%  26%  31%  26%  28% 
Spanish  2  0  0  2  1  3  8  Masters  55%  55%  61%  59%  58%  56%  58% 
Hungarian  1  0  0  2  4  0  7  Doctorate  8%  8%  6%  9%  5%  5%  7% 
Portuguese  0  1  1  2  2  1  7 
Croatian  1  1  0  0  2  2  6               
Indian  0  0  1  2  3  0  6  Local managers 
Turkish  1  0  0  1  4  0  6  Sample size  36  37  67  39  34  58  271 
Bulgarian  0  0  2  1  1  0  4  Ownership               
Brazilian  0  1  1  1  0  1  4 
Serbian  0  1  2  0  0  0  3  Majority local  29%  11%  24%  19%  18%  16%  19% 
Ukrainian  0  0  0  2  0  1  3  ≥ 50% Foreign  71%  89%  76%  81%  82%  84%  81% 
Iranian  0  0  1  0  0  1  2 
Organisation size               
Nigerian  0  0  2  0  0  0  2 
Norwegian  0  0  1  0  1  0  2  < 10 people  26%  5%  11%  8%  0%  9%  9% 
Slovenian  0  1  1  0  0  0  2  10 to 99  40%  22%  27%  24%  21%  29%  27% 
South African  0  1  0  0  0  1  2 
Bosnian/  
100 to 1000  31%  57%  38%  41%  42%  41%  42% 
0  1  0  0  0  0  1 
Herzegovinian  > 1000  3%  16%  24%  27%  36%  21%  22% 
Chinese  0  0  0  0  0  1  1 
Years worked outside the country 
Colombian  0  0  0  0  0  1  1 
Cypriot  0  0  0  0  1  0  1  < 1 year  36%  38%  48%  60%  71%  48%  51% 
Dominican  0  0  0  0  1  0  1  1 to 5  48%  27%  26%  20%  23%  33%  29% 
Ecuadorian  0  1  0  0  0  0  1 
> 5  15%  35%  26%  20%  6%  19%  21% 
Egyptian  0  1  0  0  0  0  1 
Icelandic  0  0  0  0  0  1  1  Education level               
Jordanian  0  1  0  0  0  0  1  High school  3%  5%  3%  11%  0%  4%  4% 
New Zealander  0  0  0  0  0  1  1 
Pakistani  0  0  0  0  0  1  1  Degree  14%  16%  35%  11%  33%  12%  21% 
Syrian  0  0  1  0  0  0  1  Masters  74%  68%  55%  78%  64%  68%  67% 
Venezuelan  0  0  0  0  1  0  1 
Doctorate  9%  11%  6%  0%  3%  16%  8% 

52 
TARGET International Executive Search

Linguistic capabilities 
Languages reported spoken fluently Av.no.
Expatriate managers BU CZ EN FR DE HU IT PO RO RU SL SP Other %EN %Local langs
Bulgaria 26 1 97 25 49 2 11 0 5 6 1 13 34 99% 27% 2.8 Language key
Czech Republic 0 52 143 47 60 4 11 1 1 10 12 18 37 100% 36% 2.8
BU Bulgarian
CZ Czech
Hungary 2 5 179 68 106 68 15 6 2 8 4 18 42 96% 36% 2.8
EN English
Poland 1 2 137 67 52 2 19 65 1 12 1 21 39 96% 46% 3.0 FR French
Romania 3 5 142 48 52 7 10 2 33 10 4 11 39 99% 23% 2.5 DE German
HU Hungarian
Slovakia 2 20 187 63 91 4 21 12 4 10 61 17 57 99% 32% 2.9
IT Italian
TOTAL 34 85 885 318 410 87 87 86 46 56 83 98 248 98% 33% 2.8 PO Polish
RO Romanian
Local managers RU Russian
Bulgaria 35 0 34 3 12 0 1 0 0 21 0 0 3 97% 100% 3.1
SL Slovak
SP Spanish
Czech Republic 0 37 36 1 11 0 1 5 0 17 22 1 1 97% 100% 3.6

Hungary 0 0 62 10 31 66 1 2 4 7 0 2 6 94% 100% 2.9

Poland 0 0 37 4 6 1 1 37 0 5 0 0 0 100% 100% 2.5

Romania 0 0 33 13 6 4 4 0 34 0 0 1 1 97% 100% 2.8

Slovakia 0 39 58 8 23 4 2 4 0 13 58 1 4 100% 100% 3.7

TOTAL 35 76 260 39 89 75 10 48 38 63 80 5 15 97% 100% 3.1

Methodology 

Questionnaire design
The questionnaire fall into two parts – 44 questions soliciting respondents’ opinions about management
culture and nine demographic questions such as nationality and company size.

The number of questions and layout were carefully chosen to enable the questionnaire to be answered
quickly. The opinion questions were posed as statements to which respondents could choose one of six
tick box answers graded from ‘Disagree strongly’ to ‘Agree strongly’ In order to encourage
respondents to take a position on each question we did not have a “Don’t Know” option. However, we
used statistical tests to identify questions where the overall response was, in fact, neutral.

Some particularly important questions were asked twice in different forms, as a cross-check. Thus there
are, for example, two questions related to: dedication to customer service; problem solving, organised
working, cross-cultural attitudes and team-working.

Addressees
We contacted a total of 5164 managers in the six countries and received 1169 valid responses via the
TARGET website, including 271 local managers, to serve as a control group. For the purposes of this
survey, we use “expatriate” in the wide sense, to include any foreigner working in another country,
whether formally covered by an expatriate contract or not.

53  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Appendix 5 – original questionnaire 

(Screenshots from TARGET website - www.targetfuture.com)

54 
TARGET International Executive Search

(Appendix 5 - Original questionnaire, continued)

55  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Appendix 6 – respondents’ additional comments 

Note that we have corrected spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors and, in general, have
“cleaned up” the English of some of these comments in order to make them clearer. In all cases we
have taken care not to change the intended meaning (as far as we could understand it) of the original
comments made online. The nationality of the respondent making the comment is indicated in square
brackets.

Bulgaria 
Comments – Bulgaria 
It  should  be  noted  that  in  Bulgaria,  foreigners  ‐  those  from  the  West  ‐  are  automatically  regarded  as  more  knowledgeable,  experienced  and 
richer by Bulgarians. If you get bad service, start speaking English and the rude/incompetent Bulgarian will grovel at your feet ‐ something that 
disgusts me. [USA] 
I  could  not  possibly  tell  you  what  I  truly  believe  about  the  Bulgarian  business  environment  ‐  absolutely  impossible  ‐  fully  corrupt  under  the 
communist government.  Bulgaria needs a revolution ‐ a violent uprising by the people with the mass slaughter of their elected officials.  This 
country lacks "a few good men".  I have seen these on occasion but mostly they are too exhausted to participate.  EU oversight of Bulgaria ‐ 
pathetic ‐ and irresponsible with the funds of EU citizens. [Australian] 
The understanding of basic values (loyalty, social responsibility ...) is still very low among most of the local people. 
We have very good experience with local people who lived abroad for a longer time. [Austrian] 
Bulgaria is a mess. 
‐ There's no workforce, no competence in whatever field. [Belgian] 
There  is  a  distinct  difference  between  the  older  generation  of  managers  (from  the  days  of  socialism)  who  have  an  autocratic  approach  to 
management  and  the  up  and  coming  generation  of  managers  (25  to  35)  who  are  more  result  focussed  with  a  better  understanding  of 
interpersonal skills. [British] 
Business  in  Bulgaria  is  almost  entirely  relationship  based.  Written  contracts  are  only  now  starting  to  have  much  meaning,  and  are  still  often 
disregarded by local business people. Bulgarians find it hard to work in teams, and seem to suffer from problems of insecurity. They are also very 
focused on short term results, perhaps because they fear (with justification) being cheated in the longer term. Bulgarians are friendly and very 
pleasant people, but doing business is slow and frustrating.  [British] 
Following 70 years of communism attitudes need to change. Gradually this is happening [British] 
Based on almost 40 years of international experience my considered opinion is Bulgaria is about 10 years behind some other CEE and Middle 
East countries for example and Managers here tend to focus on educational qualifications as opposed to actual "management" skills. In general 
they are reactive and introspective but can produce good results if "managed" in a strong but participative style. The "Yes...but" syndrome is 
highly prevalent. The "love of procedures" and fear of personal accountability is also prevalent. They have good potential but appear to "fear" 
issues such as "change" and prefer their own "comfort zones"...with few exceptions this mental attitude holds them back from quickly achieving 
their true potential on the international playing field. In my case after four years of much training and management development of my staff 
inclusive various levels of Managers I have seen many positive results but it has taken much time, energy and dedication to achieve the level we 
have reached and there is still a long way to go. Another noted point is the lack of objectivity of many local managers (personal relationships 
tend to cloud their judgement) and a tendency for their personal ambition to be out of line with personal skills base (there are exceptions so this 
is very generic). [British] 
My point of view as an expat is from working with local Managers and Engineers on one specific project and not with any other organisation or 
government body. [British] 
Many experienced Bulgarians live abroad but would not consider returning permanently until salaries and living conditions are more on a par 
with the rest of Europe. I know many such individuals. Conversely foreign companies are attracted to invest in Bulgaria due to the relatively low 
labour cost, compared with e.g. Italy, Germany & Greece. Bulgaria still has many Communist‐era enterprises which desperately need Western 
management to drag them onto a sound footing. Fundamental cultural issues mean the older generations find it hard to adapt to new ways. 
Those in their 20's are the future of the country. Many of course will leave to find better paid  
work abroad. [British] 
Too much talking, not enough action and for people concerned to become a little more modest, not knowing everything. Rome was not built in 
one day. It is also important to look at the history of Bulgaria, the structure for management/business/manufacturing/trading overall in a world 
market is all new and must change from an insular society to a global one. How? Time and a willingness to learn. [British] 
Bulgaria suffers from 50 years of communism ‐ and in my view they were some of the most efficient ‐ but 20 years of post communist anarchy 
and corruption, and 400 years of Ottoman Empire. It’s quite oriental. Management and relationships probably have more in common with the 
East and Arab countries than central Europe. [British] 

56 
TARGET International Executive Search

Comments – Bulgaria 
I would like to add the distinct difference of some local managers who sincerely work for the company compared to those  who spend hours 
there, doing just what is needed to reach target (plus a bit to get the bonus, but not too much to lose it the next year) and on the side have a 
totally different agenda, which primarily includes their own items first. Because of the low pay (although cost vs. benefit most pay is actually too 
high) in some companies, local managers seem to justify their behaviour with the motivation that they also must source their own income. None 
of these issues are new at all; just most Western European managers have learned that business does pay you well, in all sorts of pay, if you pay 
well to the company. Because of the shortage of local managers (fluent in Bulgarian), there are those who seem to think they can misuse their 
capabilities  (a  bit).  To  be  honest,  I  would  agree  with  those  who  would  argue  that  similar  behaviour  is  carried  out  in  other  countries  with  a 
particular language (Hungary, Poland, Czech, and even maybe Holland, for that matter). Therefore it is nothing strange, just an issue that needs 
to be identified, talked about and then managed properly.  [Dutch] 
Striking is, that returned Bulgarian expats, after several years working abroad for multi nationals, have serious difficulties in fitting in again in 
local  management  culture/style.  Being  my  own  boss,  I  can  run  the  show  as  I  like.  During  1994/1995  I  have  been  in  BG  representing  an 
international financial institution. Compared with that period, much has changed, but still plenty of room for further improvement. I can do my 
business without bribing but you have to be patient! Stay friendly, keep on smiling and act stupid (don't pay). At the end you get what you want. 
[Dutch] 
Decision to change management to more efficiency is rarely taken ‐ often status quo is the option. But there are in Bulgaria very skilled people 
who are working well. Few companies can afford them, but few also are able to identify their needs in this area and already took position over 
them. [French] 
Master  plan  from  Government  is  needed...Economy  is  growing  but  salaries  are  stable.  No  proper  Job  Trainings.  More  people  assume  and 
pretend to be trained. No proper Educations in school and Jobs. No HR Practice. And much more. But this is the challenge for a foreign Manager 
to work here. here is all new and we can move the things, convincing people how to grow, how to learn etc. [German] 
My management style is hands on as I feel that Management needs to have a personal indication of the beat of the market. 
Managers in Bulgaria do not have the feeling of responsibility for the actions of those below them and are not willing to take the responsibility of 
a  hands  on  style  and  educating  their  staff.  As  well  their  lack  of  creativity,  due  to  lack  of  experience  and  fear  of  responsibility,  makes  them 
number crunchers instead of managers. [Greek] 
One  of  the  biggest  problems  that  I  confront  is  the  absence  of  desire  for  hard  work  and  through  that  personal  development  and  eventually 
success. Success for the locals can come easily without too much effort and this is also one of the reasons for quick changing of jobs, that for a 
short period of time can give some more money independent from any quality characteristics that this company can have. [Greek] 
Bulgaria is a very promising economy, investment wise, but the ROI projected/expected ratio is continuously under threat, because the wage 
increase rate is higher than the productivity/ efficiency increase in local companies.  [Greek] 
In a quite strong contradiction with the near past of 5‐8 years ago, in Bulgaria as well as in other similar, former "Eastern" economies, expatriate 
managers tend to decrease continuously, day by day. There is still a myth that they are much more expensive than local managers. This myth 
stands on three "pillars": The first derives from the usual fact that an expatriate manager, needs to have a decent place to stay (apartment or 
house, depends upon taste and budget) that the company is to pay. The second comes from the level of quality of the local managers, regarding 
their education, professional training and experience, corporate culture and business ethics. The third leg comes from the combination of above 
two. All the above lead to the simple result of having nowadays, given also the extremely big lack of managers in the BG market, inadequate 
local  managers  leading  foreign  (often  multinational)  companies  with  much  less  productivity,  compared  with  the  results  that  an  expat  would 
bring and with the salary (quite high, almost same level, in some cases even higher) that local managers demand and, nowadays, manage to get. 
I believe they are really fooling, or even cheating on their foreign employers, creating thus a virtual reality, "belle époque" working environment 
for themselves, their colleagues of similar level and, also, their subordinates. They are constantly leading the local market's working concept to a 
"do less, demand and get more" sphere. Finally, regarding sales, they are simply, just awful!.... Because simply, they never did or had to do any, 
in the near past!... [Greek] 
Younger managers are more adaptable and have more initiative. Managers over 40 here have been brought up in the Socialist system where 
initiative was not a healthy attribute. So they seem to find it harder to take on western management techniques and styles ‐ it is best described I 
think  that  they  need  to  cross  the  'trust  barrier'  before  they  feel  confident  that  they  will  not  get  punished  for  initiative.  I'm  not  saying  it's 
impossible for them, just that it is a slower process and more work. [Irish] 
My personal experience is that you can find good managers but a company is not just made up of Management but also normal people which 
tends to be the majority. In this case the tendency is that the Local Manager is obliged to follow instead of trying to change. His preconceived 
ideas whether earning too much money for the owners/shareholders (comparing what he gets for his position) in creating/expanding business 
so to achieve the above, means more work and sacrifice which is not normally welcomed not the least I add the fact that most believe in bribes 
to get results. [Italian] 
Impression I have is that Bulgarian people tend to underestimate themselves and often look for the half empty glass. A more positive attitude 
would bring better results. Planning in this country is an unknown word. I get invitations to events the evening before the event takes place, as if 
I was waiting with nothing to do for someone to invite me. The same approach is for planning meetings and deadlines in advance. Very tough 
and often needs to be imposed. On the other hand, people are very open and friendly, passionate about their work and hard workers. Very open 
to learn and develop themselves from others. [Italian] 
Thanks for Your initiative ‐ keep in touch. My idea for 2009 is further helping create synergies between  Romanian and Bulgarian Companies.  
[Romanian] 
I see that the older managers have difficulty adapting to modern Western management styles, like being creative and taking responsibility. But I 
find the young ones to be very adaptive and creative.  [Swedish] 
Also I run a small business with 6 employees I am in contact with many typical Bulgarian companies employing from 100 to 1000 employees as I 
do process optimisation and productivity improvement projects. My answers to this questionnaire are based on my analysis of these businesses, 
not on my own business. In my business, we employ only young Bulgarian people that have worked or studied in Germany.  
Do not hesitate to contact us if you need more information. The management issue is a real issue in Bulgaria. [Swiss] 

57  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Comments – Bulgaria 
The level of management in Bulgaria has improved greatly over the past 8 years.  However, there is still a lower level of experience in managers 
in similar management positions in  Bulgaria, as opposed to the  USA and Western Europe.  Regardless of experience, Bulgarian managers are 
hard working and dedicated.  What they lack in experience is usually made up for with enthusiasm. The advantages of operating a business in 
Bulgaria far outweigh any disadvantages. [USA] 
Your management questions do not normally relate to work at an international school.  Most of the managers are international hires, and the 
local support staff are hard working and most cooperative.  Because of the high turnover with international teachers, our local staff members 
must be the glue for the organization.  In this way there is a lot of respect paid to these employees, as they know the ropes of the operation, and 
can provide very valuable insights into the local culture and how it operates to those of us who come in quite new to the culture. [USA] 
The management culture in Bulgaria is still in a phase of development and will need to adopt a lot of the best practices that are currently being 
used  in  the  other  countries.  Best  practices  towards  innovation,  instilment  and  clear  definition  of  organisation  values  and  development  of 
corporate culture, which suits the purpose, and designation of the organisation. The management culture in Bulgaria has still to work towards 
establishing and maintaining strong customer relationships as a guideline to success. [Bulgarian] 
People mistakenly believe that the main problem facing business in Bulgaria is corruption. In fact, the biggest problem is the inefficiency of the 
official bureaucracy, and their inability to hire, motivate and retain quality personnel. The best people stay in the public service for a very short 
time and then find a better paid job in the private sector or abroad. [Bulgarian] 
CVs are in the most case exaggerated. It's funny how employers believe easily after a convincing presentation. This doesn't change the fact that 
employers  play  with  the  truth  similarly  or  change  conditions  drastically  just  to  get  a  better  candidate  quickly  without  thinking  about  the 
consequences.  There  is  something  very  wrong  in  the  whole  situation.  The  result:  too  many  people  change  work  place  too  often.  Companies 
don't take this as a serious problem and lose trained personnel who go directly to the competition and employees don't make a stable career. 
[Bulgarian] 

Czech Republic 
Comments – Czech Republic 
I  would  like  to  see  more  accountability  in  the  business  environment,  but  there  is  a  fine  line  between  improving  commercial  acumen  and 
balancing  the  local  lifestyle  and  culture.  The  other  element  I  find  quite  unique  for  this  region  is  the  vast  differences  in  business  standards 
between the cities and the surrounding villages.  That is one challenge in taking the overall financial and business processes forward. [Austrian] 
Quality of management will be shown in the near future when the economy calms down.  Up till now, no crisis management skills have been 
needed and proved. There is a strong focus on manuals and rules, sometimes missing individual decisions. Client relationship stands still behind 
shareholders' value, which will lead in the long term run to serious trouble. [Austrian] 
+ very flexible towards different management styles 
+‐ very family oriented 
‐ Czech tend to be pessimistic (looking for reasons why it could go wrong instead of trying) 
‐ Big fear of making mistakes (don't like changes) 
The challenge for the manager is to get the best out of the people, to give them knowledge and trust that if they make mistakes and if they say 
something that isn't right there is no punishment. [Belgian] 
Expat  managers  are  not  always  more  expensive  than  locals.  Their  ability  to  add  value  hinges  on  their  ability  to  apply  best  practice  to  the 
environment that they work in.  Some management practices do not work and to push them is counter‐productive.  [British] 
The survey is OK but a there are many questions where there is a difference. My staff fit well with the positives and I have had staff with the 
negatives but have released them. Example ‐ When I first started the job here I was resented by a few who tried to turn everyone against an Ex‐
Pat leader. When I demonstrated new and exciting ways to lead the team, the few became exposed and dispensable. However, I see in peer 
companies many of the bad examples that are asked and I for one would not accept them in mine.   [British] 
The answers above apply to Slovakia as well. As we operate in the postal segment, the stance of local governments on liberalization affects our 
industry.  Both  Czech  and  Slovak  governments  are  extremely  anti  a  liberalized  postal  market  and  support  the  monopolistic  incumbent  postal 
operators. This hinders the whole industry.  [Canadian] 
Local managers often lack good people management skills but are very willing to learn  [Dutch] 
The local management style is still quite hierarchic in style. Local people are hesitant about coming with new initiatives unless they are very sure 
that their superiors would support it. "Tactical" thinking regarding the individual's position in the organization has normally higher priority than 
actually seeing and working for the benefit of the company itself. [Finnish] 
Main managerial issue is to hold people accountable [French] 
Czech people are very good in business‐to‐business activities, but not so good in business‐to‐consumer activities. They are hard workers, clever, 
pragmatic and efficiency oriented. They don't have a huge sense of humour. They are money oriented and money makers. Spirituality is not the 
first value in this country. It is hard to create personal contact with them, and you need few years to create the trust and deeper relationship 
with them. [French] 
There is a tendency to always react to problems by saying, it is not my fault, or I do not know ! There is no real positive attitude about looking 
forward to learn from one’s own mistakes. There is a lack of long term aim (the most is short term related) and, hence, it is not so easy to build 
real  people  development  for  many  years,  because  you  do  not  know  if  that  person  will  still  be  with  you  (not  because  of  problems  with  the 
company  or  your  direct  relationship  but  just  because  the  next  door  company  will  have  offered  1  000  Kc  more  per  month).  In  general,  I  am 
impressed by the efficiency of the education system regarding adaptation to new environments. However, I am not impressed by the loyalty and 
the honesty of managers in general in this country. Despite this, I have been very happy so far with my collaborators, who managed to adapt to 
my style and I managed to adapt to their needs/sensitivity that generated a very well organised and structured, efficient team. The comments 
made in the survey, are general of course and based on my experience with dealing broadly with Czech based company and managers. [French] 

58 
TARGET International Executive Search

Comments – Czech Republic 
The given valuations to your questions are based on the average of 15 years experience in this country in comparison to former experiences in 
Spain and Germany. As an old stager my applied yardstick is probably not fair.  What I've noticed in general is an increasing ruthlessness within 
the social interaction, combined with an incremental contempt for older people and people with a lower education. The members of the ruling 
class want to be the better capitalists than their Western paragons. [German] 
Answers  are  valid  for  CZ  and  SK,  have  lived  in  both  countries  for  now  7  years.  You  have  lived  outside  this  country  for  (in  total):  I  do  not 
understand the question ‐ I lived 3 years in CZ and since 4 years in SK [German] 
Same answers would be given for Slovak, Hungary and Poland! [German] 
... there is not black or white. There are big differences in education, background, management style between individuals ... from my experience 
that  is  most  probably  stronger  clustering  of  the  manager  styles  than  nationality.  Example:  a  team  oriented  manager  in  Germany  is  probably 
quite similar to a team oriented manager in CZ. In CZ there is very much a "European Management Culture". [German] 
Strong tendency to observe hierarchy, on the other hand there’s a ' Švejk' way around this. Reaching the target is an achievement even if you 
don't meet the timeline. [German] 
There are good people available but you have to look hard to find them. Then you have to work hard to develop and keep them. It is possible but 
it takes time and patience. For those that demonstrate no interest in development and just want the pay check then we say goodbye. Loyalty 
takes time to develop but full employment means head hunters are always on looking to offer more money. Employment law means loyalty will 
never be easy to develop as incentive is to keep moving for more money rather than long term goals. [Irish] 
My overall experience in work environments in CZ has been so far negative. There's a certain lack of respect towards foreigners in general, and 
this is reflected on the workplace, regardless of the positions. The overtime work has quickly become "the normality" and the presenteeism is 
abundant: the paradoxal result of all this is the following: people who really work but want to go home after the 8 hours and enjoy life, are soon 
targeted as bad employees and subjected to a light form of mobbing without any career possibilities. Presenteeists (who stay in the workplace 
12 hours a day in average) are the kings and queens of the corporate environment, even if they do the same amount of work of the people who 
stays in the office for 8 hours. Another interesting phenomenon: anyone who lives outside Prague is HIGHLY discriminated!!! I have to travel 1,5 
hours  up  to  2  hours  every  morning  and  again  every  evening  to  go  to/from  the  workplace  in  Prague  centre,  and  my  employers  have  always 
complained that I arrived often late at work (normally, between 9.00 and 10.00 in the morning). No matter that at 8.00, 9.00 or 10.00 in the 
morning, except VERY rare cases, on the average workplace there's absolutely nothing to do, save for the breakfast, a cigarette and chatting with 
colleagues. Again the presenteeism, and no flexibility at all! Now I finally am a successful independent contractor, and enjoy working on my own, 
choosing my clients, with MY own schedule and without the usually RETARDED (local or foreign) managers breathing over my neck and saying 
stupidities all the time. I would like to spend a few words on the recruiting agencies operating locally in CZ, but I am afraid I would have to be 
very vulgar on that subject... 
I hope you appreciate my sincere comments, based on five years of chronic professional depression :‐) [Italian] 
I would say the largest differences between Swedish and Czech managers is that Swedish managers are one in the group (more of a navigator 
than  captain),  consensus  is  taken  before  every  decision,  making  decision  processes  long.  If  a  Swedish  manager  behaves  like  this  in  a  Czech 
working environment, she/he is seen as a weak manager. Czech managers are more hierarchical, able to make fast decisions on the spot without 
asking others, and this is also expected from them. Each style obviously has its pros and cons. [Swedish] 
There is no NEUTRAL option for the above questions; therefore it is definitely going to alter the true feeling for much of the above. [Swiss] 
I have been living & working here in Prague for 10 years this month ‐ a great country, great people ‐ but AT WORK the same great people are a 
different  story  ‐  especially  the  "one's  who  claim  themselves  to  be  managers"  +  the  young  people.  There  is  no  correlation  between  their 
experience  and  dedication  to  work/company  and  their  expectations  of  compensation/titles.  Out  of  the  10  years,  I  have  managed  companies 
OUTSIDE  of  Prague  during  almost  3  years  +  even  though  our  family  is  entirely  Swiss,  our  children  are  attending  the  normal,  Czech  schools.  I 
therefore know this country well, I should say, very well. I would like to pass part of my experience on to young, interested, Czech Managers but 
unfortunately only very, very few are interested in this experience.....they are mainly interested in SALARY (money) ‐ very short term focussed. 
Most do not have a long term plan. General: I have lived and worked abroad for the past 22 years (five countries ‐ Italy, Germany, Portugal, USA 
and Czech Republic). [Swiss] 
The  Czech  population  is  not  a  very  much  outgoing  character.  They  keep  the  bad  news  for  themselves  and  have  the  tendency  of  shifting  the 
responsibility to other when reaching the conflict zone. The Czech is not much customer oriented and often has a hard unfriendly behaviour in 
the Hospitality and Tourism industry. Jobs are changed rapidly for little more money, especially within the younger generation. [Swiss] 
My comments are mostly for CZ but also for SK, I am CEO of both countries.  I believe that there is an extreme lack of experience in the Senior 
Manager to VP level especially in overall business practices, Sales, Customer Service, Business Policies and ethics, HR.  There is a lot of IT and 
technical knowhow without business background. I would be happy to be interviewed because I worked in CZ from 90‐94 and then again since 
2006 and can tell you what has changed and what has not.   [USA] 
The Business culture here is less interested in excellence. Its philosophy is to find the least expensive path to job completion. [USA] 
It's difficult to make general statements dealing with the overall "managerial culture" as each manager is a different person, no matter if he's 
Czech, French, German etc. However, as I have been working within Czech affiliates of some foreign companies quite a long time (since 1993), I 
could observe quite a strong arrogance of most of managers (and "so‐called" managers) coming here from Western Europe and US. They mostly 
thought that we were climbing on trees and hunting mammoths and they acted accordingly, which built a high "communication wall" between 
them and local staffs. Moreover, foreign companies used to send here the "3rd and 4th league" of managers with very low skills which resulted 
in  many  fatally  wrong  decisions.  Till  today  it  is  quite  an  often  phenomenon  that  the  key  positions  are  occupied  by  foreigners  with  no/low 
knowledge of the local environment with a logical impact on results. It's still a habit to consider foreign managers better than the local ones. On 
the other hand, the locals want to get very rich too fast with all the consequences on their behaviour. [Czech] 
I have just one note. You are asking about all types of local managers' behaviour. I have been also working previously as company consultant. 
Beside that I am now working for 3rd global company as Sales Dir, GM, MD or now HR. My opinion is that there is a big difference between 
managers who have been working for global foreign companies or for local Czech/Slovak companies. For me those from global companies are 
more educated and professional. Unfortunately, local companies do not always invest in people development, lack coaching, mentoring and all 
that stuff, even though the people are good and willing to learn. [Czech] 

59  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Comments – Czech Republic 
It is  kind  of  difficult  to  answer  some  of  the  questions for  "the  whole  group".  Personal  preferences  are  mixed  up  with  the  reality  and  current 
situation in Czech republic :) [Czech] 
Most critical part of business environment in the Czech Republic is activity linked to State owned companies. [Czech] 

Hungary 
Comments ‐ Hungary 
Hungarians lack basic business courtesies. Simple things like returning phone calls or answering e‐mails are done in a timely manner ONLY IF IT 
BENEFITS THEM. Most of the time when they say they will call you back or send you an e‐mail, they don't.   [USA] 
In  the  15  years  living  in  Hungary  I  have  never  had  a  sales  call  other  than  from  the  expat  investment  swindlers.    I  like  to  think  what  makes 
Hungary a difficult place to work makes it a nice place to live.   [Austrian] 
Management culture in Hungary is still not professional at all ‐ but the tendency is positive although slow. [Austrian] 
Need for improvement is felt, but implemented too slowly. [Austrian] 
Strong problems in Hungary: 
 ‐ nobody cares about company rules or directives, if there is a way to get to a better personally result 
 ‐ there is no sense of ethics and accepting others 
 ‐ the friends you have to make for good business, will turn against you for personally better  results ‐ at least much more in percentage, than in 
Germany or Austria 
 ‐ people always go the easiest way, which in fact means ‐> teamwork results are only for show and will mostly not be accepted by the team  
 ‐ women are much more trustworthy and have more ethical understanding  
 ‐  BIGGEST  PROBLEM:  the  government  and  also  all  other  parts  are  extremely  unable  and  never  trust  in  new  regulations,  therefore  long‐term 
planning is impossible in this country . [Austrian] 
1.) My experience is that in Hungary women are much more responsible than men. They work harder than their colleagues, they don´t discuss a 
lot, they do it. Men, in whichever field I look at, love to discuss and make philosophical comments but they forget to work and I suppose they are 
not even interested in working, especially not hard work. 
( I have lived in Hungary for 16 years and have experience in a lot of different fields). 
2.) There are a lot of well‐trained people, especially young people but if they have the possibility they leave the country. In Hungary they are 
poorly paid and don´t have a lot of chances.  [Austrian] 
Having some experience from working in the Czech Republic and Slovakia plus Hungary, I can see significant differences in general behaviour. 
Most apparent for a German speaker is the resistance in the Czech Republic against foreigners (German speaking). It turned out to be essential 
to  speak  at  least  some  Czech.  In  contrast,  Hungarians  are  very  much  open  to  foreigners,  especially  from  German  speaking  countries.  The 
acceptance of  expats is much higher. Regarding bureaucracy there is a lot of it in both  (or all three)  countries; the difference is that there is 
always  a  way  around  it  in  Hungary,  but  usually  no  way  in  the  Czech  Republic.  There  is  also  a  clear  difference  in  customer  service,  where 
Hungarians are much more willing to focus on the client. On the other hand, I had the feeling that Czech colleagues were much more target 
oriented, working harder and less on the "convenience" side. Hungarian behaviour seems for me to be very much influenced by the Balkans or 
Mediterranean. Doing business without extended meals and personal relationship is impossible. [Austrian] 
Pessimistic culture. Change is frowned upon.  [British] 
In Hungary, my experience is that although there are a large number of technically strong hard‐working locals there is still a lack of corporate 
style that enables them to excel in a multinational environment. In the three companies, large, medium & small multinationals I have worked in I 
have been able to flourish because I understand the need to go the extra mile to get results.  The fact that there are still so  many expats in 
Hungary in senior roles is not that they are better but simply there is a feeling from the top guys they can be trusted to get the job done properly 
and be enthusiastic about it.  With a few exceptions, male managers want the perks. quick bucks without the hard slog, although this is changing 
amongst the 20‐30 somethings. [British] 
I am based in Hungary but the work I do is around the whole of the CEE region so these questions have been answered from the CEE perspective 
rather than the Hungarian experience as I am not involved with the work based in Hungary. [British] 
Informal channels remain a highly effective medium of obtaining business results.   This is historically based but forms a significant barrier to 
Multinational operations effectiveness and requires local managers to be effective in bridging the gap. [British] 
Difficult  to  get  educated  and  experienced  EHS  professionals  or  managers  with  aviation  experience.    I  believe  the  remuneration  for  managers 
here is competitive; it’s the tax system that is the problem.  [British] 
Hungary has basically 2 drawbacks in management skills: lots of talk, little urgent action; the standard feeling is since this country is different 
they can handle everything without outside help, until that is, things start to go wrong. [British] 
The political situation here is one of direct conflict between left and right. This battle takes precedent over anything else, and is a major cause 
behind the frequent delays and budget overspending on projects here.  The tax and judicial systems here are also laughable, being so complex 
and time‐consuming. [British] 
My answers are based on general experience of 3 multinational and one fully Hungarian company. [Bulgarian] 
I believe that there is a lot of business potential in Hungary, that's why I'm here. The problem here is that people are to close in their mind and 
don't feel like they want to know or do more. Maybe is it because of the low salaries...Hungary is getting into a new economic era, its time to 
wake‐up. [Canadian] 
This survey is a great idea, I am curious to see the differences with other countries in the area ‐ and I hope people take it as positive criticism, an 
opportunity to improve. [Dutch] 

60 
TARGET International Executive Search

Comments ‐ Hungary 
‐ there is a large difference between local and international companies 
‐ High levels of education combined with ambition and entrepreneurial spirit across CE could give a competitive advantage for years to come 
‐ education systems should put more emphasis on interpersonal and team skills to balance academic excellence [Dutch] 
From  my  experience  working  in  Budapest,  for  a  multinational  company.  I  would  like  to  share  the  following.  Most  managers  are  nepotistic, 
employing  friends  or  relatives,  not  on  the  ability  to  do  a  job,  but  purely  on  relationship.  Most  managers  are  sexist,  who  do  not  like  having 
women in positions of power or promoting them, unless there is something in it for them. There is a dislike for expat managers and a lack of 
ownership or commitment. They spend too much time on process, procedure and bureaucracy, as opposed to doing the task in the first place 
(which is normally quicker to do). Those without authority within the workplace are great people; they just do the job and leave the BS to those 
above them. [British] 
It really surprises me how divided Hungary is by languages ‐ so few people speak good English ‐ people always tend to try but then they cannot 
cope with even normal situations. Yet, then people who have worked in international firms are totally different ‐ probably these form the salary 
and competence elite for international companies. [Finnish] 
People are motivated and talented here but inflexible in many aspects ‐ they do not really accept changes (like opportunities, constraints) and 
the consequences of globalization. Acceptance of reality and the future is still a problem here.  [French] 
Nostalgia about the past is one of  the most important characteristic of Hungarian citizens. Furthermore, the employees are very volatile and 
never loyal to the company. Money is the driver of the change. [French] 
In my field, there are a lot of young, ambitious managers. I see a change of trend to young people wanting to take more responsibilities than 
they  would  do  before.  The  motivation  is  the  position  in  the  hierarchy  and  the  compensation.    Team  spirit  is  relatively  good  but  there  is 
competition amongst teams, type of jobs/clients the team does/work for.  In general the young managers work hard and are reliable, fewer are 
just showing and do not want to take too much responsibility. [French] 
Hungarians  are  even  more  jealous  towards  (about)  our  nations  than  what  you  notice  elsewhere  in  the  world.  Hungarians  understand  other 
cultures but problem‐solving does not exist or is very rare. Their first reaction is always to feel personally attacked, even though a discussion in a 
professional meeting turns around the content. They can be very friendly and open. As a foreigner one is easily received and feels well quickly in 
Hungary. [Translated from German]  [German] 
Loyalty to company plays a minor role in HU‐culture [German] 
Please note, that this is a personal view based on 14 month experience in Hungary w/o good knowledge of the local language. 
From my point of view one serious problem is the very unfamiliar language which is not too easy to learn. Discussions with non‐managers have 
often  to  be  translated,  as  the  skills  of  foreign  languages  are  not  too  good.  Many  discussions  with  managers  cannot  be  done  based  on  one 
common language, as the local managers speak very often only German or only English. [German] 
The Hungarian management culture is best characterised by the statement "This is a country without consequences". Whether you are able or a 
complete non‐performer, you will be glued to your chair. The concept of accountability is still replaced by seniority. [German] 
Our client is a public company and therefore our experience with bureaucracy is significant. [German] 
We prefer to hire women in every position, at present we have more than 80 % women in our company. The reason is that they work much 
more  effectively  than  their  male  counterparts.  Their  identification  with  the  company  and  their  job  is  much  stronger  and  they  are  also  much 
better in teamwork and communication.  [German] 
Being the Regional Manager EE I am responsible for Hungary as much as I am responsible for all other countries between Russia/Poland in the 
North and Greece/Turkey in the South. For business I accordingly spend as much time in the other key countries as I do in Hungary. Your survey 
does not really cover this kind of a regional position.  [German] 
Business  spirit  and  self  motivation  is  often  missing.  Significant  lack  of  marketing  and  selling  skills.  Also  negotiation  skills  are  often  missing  
[Greek] 
Responsibility, pro‐activity and communication are in my opinion some of the biggest weaknesses here. The tendency to focus too much on the 
details  while  forgetting  to  think  about  the  big  pictures  is  also  common.  Ability  to  communicate  and  delegate  appropriately  while  accepting 
ownership and responsibility would need to be improved. [Irish] 
Regarding  culture,  problem  is  smoking.  Now  it  is  much  better  then  when  I  arrived  but  it  was  problem  with  smoking  people.  Now  there  are 
smoking and not smoking areas. Currently you have a right to ask a question during interview if a candidate smokes or not. I can see a serious 
problem in Bulgaria, as they are even smoking in the office. [Polish] 
It's great to be here! [Polish] 
Hungary has taken a good direction, but there is still a long way to go. [Serbian] 
The  entire  attitude  towards  anything  in  Hungary  ‐  let  it  be  business,  customer  service,  government.....needs  immediate  attention  from 
professionals, that have the know‐how, experience, track record and the much needed added value that is missing from just about anything that 
is  manufactured,  services  rendered,  banking  culture,  etc.      People  in  Western  Europe  do  not  want  to  do  business  anymore  with  Hungarian 
owned companies. Their governments would rather go to Slovakia, Romania, Poland, Serbia, and even the Balkans to do their business, because 
they feel that companies in those regions may be a little more transparent in their business practices. [USA] 
Hungary has a mixed culture ‐ we have always had so, I suppose...with all benefits and problems of not being homogenous. Today there are the 
younger local managers (banks, etc) who are like others in Europe, but we still have the old style ‐ and mostly in senior positions. And we have 
the "lucky "local managers who have black BMWs etc ‐ but their capital is also quite  black and sometimes also their  brains. But this is another 
issue.   About this survey:  I do not understand Q 42. [Hungarian] 
Please note, I am Hungarian, certain questions were not adequate from this angle. Thanks. [Hungarian] 
For  a  better  understanding  I  have  to  mention  that  I  have  completed  this  survey  for  Hungary,  I  am  a  Hungarian  citizen  and  have  Hungarian 
nationality, but due to my long time experience with big multinational companies and the time spent abroad I cannot consider myself a "typical 
Hungarian  manager".  In  addition  I'm  currently  (since  Jan.  1st  2008)  in  charge  of  8  countries  in  Central  Eastern  Europe,  from  Poland  down  to 
Turkey. Therefore I can best relate Hungary to these countries. [Hungarian] 

61  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Comments ‐ Hungary 
It is not clear whether you ask about the company I work for or general opinion about the country as such. I was under the impression that the 
latter was the case. It is a pity as it leads to generalisation. Personal company experience would be much more in depth than general opinion.  
[Hungarian] 
Hungarian employers still do not value an MBA education. Most of the managers do not have an MBA education and they become reluctant and 
feel threatened facing a candidate with it. It will take time (at least 1‐2 generations) until this culture is going to be changed. [Hungarian] 
Hungarian managers do not think about the big picture and this is why they react instead of acting :) [Hungarian] 
I think we are silly country, we are creating all kinds of laws which we are not able to keep. There is a huge gap between the real and the "to be" 
world. In our country there is no responsibility, the simple people are finger pointing UP and the government is finger pointing DOWN. By seeing, 
we are not able to "sell" unpopular instructions. In this way we are losing competitiveness year by year. [Hungarian] 
I have quite often found a lack of strategic planning behind stressed organizations. Often mangers are not supported with any means to achieve 
desired changes. Continuous improvement is not really present in the mindset of average people. Hungarian owners and directors are generally 
interested in short term cash production, not really value creation (economical instability?). [Hungarian] 
In  Hungary,  similarly  to  other  "former  socialist"  countries,  the  management  of  multinational  corporations  and  leading  companies  is  relatively 
young. Following the fall of the iron curtain, those young, talented, motivated people who spoke English and proved to be hard working & open 
to  novelties,  became  management  members  fast  (in  their  early  twenties).  These  people  are  now  in  their  middling  30s  and  are  in  very  nice 
positions.  Due  to  the  fact  that  they  had  to  learn  everything  "on  the  ground"  and  that  they  had  to  work  and  manage  their  company 
(departments)  in  a  fast  changing  environment,  generally  all  of  them  are  very  customer‐oriented,  hard‐working,  they  focus  on  shareholders' 
value,  they  are  flexible,  they  handle  change  and  challenges  easily  etc.  However,  I  believe  that  the  Hungarian  management  culture  could  still 
develop in other skills, such as team work, management of people, time‐management. The fact is, that we are missing the "old teachers", the old 
traditions and history in management and our business relationships. The other problem in Hungary, in my opinion, is that the young generation 
(young graduates with 3‐5 years of work experience) has limited career opportunities. All their managers are also still very young (between 30 
and 40), so they cannot count on retirement. Talented young people therefore often change workplace, as usually this is the only way how they 
can move forward (at least in salary). The biggest challenge of HR Departments is, therefore, to keep these young talents and offer some kind of 
career opportunity in the long term. [Hungarian] 
Although I am 100% Hungarian, I was born, studied, grew up and started to work already in the University‐times in Hungary, I have spent 11 
years at a Swiss‐owned company, the last five years as an expat in Serbia (and for a year in the Ukraine). Coming back to my homeland a few 
months  ago  was  shocking.  I  already  forgot  how  it  is:  doing  business  and  dealing  with  managers  in  Hungary.  I  would  say  that  by  observing  it 
objectively, Hungarian managers have one thing in common: they are rather for explaining how we cannot reach our target (budget, volume, 
etc.) than thinking about what all we could do to be successful. It is always stated, that "this is Hungary, here the market/people/consumers/etc 
are totally different from other (neighbouring) countries, therefore no international know‐how is applicable". Needless to say: this is not at all 
true.  
On  the  other  hand,  Hungarian  managers  do  work  a  lot  and  are  very  motivated  to  show  to  an  expat  boss  that  they  can  do  an  outstanding 
performance, although in some cases this is very much linked to their expectations for higher salary or other benefits. Overtime is not expected 
to be paid any more (this was the case a few years ago). Having a broader experience in CEE as a top‐level manager, I would say that it is still 
better and more easy for a real expat to manage a company in Hungary (although the language is said to be somewhat difficult to learn), since 
the locals usually treat expat managers with more patience and understanding. On the other hand, Hungarians are quite flexible when it comes 
to multicultural environments (as e.g. Czech or Slovak people are less open to foreigners). Despite all this, Hungarian managers do not like to 
follow international know‐how, they are rather reserved and usually blocked towards everything which is "not invented here". People around 35 
and  less  are  much  more  open,  speak  languages  (at  least  English  at  a  satisfactory  level)  and  are  rather  "cosmopolitans"  than  "local  patriots". 
[Hungarian] 
Our company prefers to have local managers in each country. The global company sends expat managers only to the freshly acquired companies 
for the start period only. [Hungarian] 

Poland 
Comments ‐ Poland 
In  Poland,  I  am  surprised  with  how  positively  people  have  accepted  having  a  foreigner  working  in  their  office,  with  limited  Polish  language. 
Secondly, they tend to really admire and want to copy the Anglo‐Saxon business methods. [USA] 
Polish managers are very flexible in solving problems. They are willing to invest in themselves & work very hard. in my opinion, there is a trend 
to  build  groups  among  Polish  managers  and  their  colleagues  ‐  this  leads  them  sometimes  not  to  be  objective  in  employee  assessment... 
[Brazilian] 
Polish managers seem to be highly adaptable. They respond quickly and usually effectively to changing circumstances. On the other hand, they 
can sometimes lack discipline in follow up on common company issues, in effect preferring individual prioritisation over organisational needs 
(definitely not Germanic thinking). Static planning in selling activities is not their strong suit. [British] 
No management training is given to engineers at Universities in Poland, this is an issue I have to address to allow Polish Managers to be able to 
manage their time and resources [British] 
Having worked in 11 countries over my working career I am impressed at the work ethic in Poland and the ability amongst our teams at least, to 
absorb fast paced change.  
On  the  other  hand  I  see  the  following  weaknesses:  the  reluctance  to  plan  ahead;  the  reluctance  to  take  ownership/provide  leadership;  the 
failure to be punctual to all meetings. [British] 

62 
TARGET International Executive Search

Comments ‐ Poland 
[This] is a very old company (established late 19th Century). Therefore most managers are >50 years old. These people are not computer literate 
and show little interest to learn new skills. They are usually autocratic and under the pressure of change, many retire or go sick. The younger 
managers are usually well educated but lack relevant experience. They tend to feel that they should be paid high salaries for their qualifications 
rather than their effectiveness. Leadership cultures are too often taken from older managers and respect is expected for their title rather than 
their  actions.  Patient  leadership  by  example  from  the  top  of  the  organisation  does  bring  slow  change  and  this  can  be  accelerated  by  careful 
selection and recruitment of new potential managers where willingness is at least given the same importance as competence.  [British] 
The  survey in general is ok, but it misses one thing in regard to Polish management style or in general behaviour and this is to give a picture of 
how Polish labour and management are afraid of changes. If Polish managers are presented a new idea, or way of doing things, the first a Polish 
manager does is to find 10 reasons why we should not change anything, instead of giving it some time and evaluation.  [Danish] 
The questions were right to the point, very good. [Finnish] 
Long term commercial thinking is missing in Poland. They are very good at solving short term problems and issues but to change mind set and 
implement new commercial strategies takes time... [Finnish] 
Polish  managers  knows  the  rules  of  their  market  much  better  than  an  expatriate,  who  has  not  spent  several  years  here.  The  market  is  also 
changing very quickly and business circumstances constantly change. To have a personal network and excellent understanding about the rules of 
the market is important to be successful as manager but international experience does also help a lot, as this market still needs to develop a 
higher  quality  on  service  culture  and  productivity.  So,  for  a  manager  who  has  been  abroad  for  several  years  and  experienced  international 
standards,  it  is  easier  to  support  local  companies  in  their  development  and  how  to  adapt  to  international  standards,  which  also  makes  the 
company more competitive on the local market. [French] 
In my opinion in Poland the most important thing is money. For good managing are your < a prezes > people are more respect and accept more 
your decision. I feel also it 's really necessary to be kind, gentlemanly and also professional. [French] 
Working since 2004 in Poland, I could see a big change in local managers. There is huge gap in mentality and behaviour between "old school" 
managers (over 33 years old) and "new school" managers (<30 years old). Also due to shortage of skilled and developed managers in the labour 
market, salaries have increased a lot over 2‐3 years and I can see that some local managers receive higher remuneration than French managers 
even if Polish managers have less experience. [French] 
The biggest burden ‐ by far ‐ is bureaucracy ! Customer Care is not the top priority but it will come. As long as competition is increasing, most 
companies will understand it is central to retain existing customers and gain new ones. As far as local managers are concerned, the younger ones 
are very capable and eager to demonstrate how good (and how worth) they are. Still, they will learn that everything comes at a cost and that it is 
important to maintain some business ethics. On this very matter, expats have a role to play. [French] 
Having  worked  with  different  cultures,  I  was  impressed  by  the  technical  skills  of  the  Polish  managers  and  equally  disappointed  by  their 
interpersonal skills. Polish managers can be autonomous in business, the main thing they need from expatriates is their experience/openness 
from other markets and headquarters to avoid reinventing the wheel.  [French] 
The workers in Poland expect organisation from the manager but when you are trying to establish a process they are not so cooperative. Strange 
contradiction. The recognition and communication of respect are very important to make the workers loyal. Very good level of education but 
you have to give the objectives and the creation of the motivation will follow. [French] 
I would like to insist on the fact that lack of initiative is the main problem that I could identify within managers. [French] 
Polish managers are generally hard working executives, open for changes and quite easy to manage and to build relationship with but quite poor 
in  their  own  initiative  and  rather  disorganized  (mixing  details  with  priorities).  Compared  with  other  countries  (in  Central  Europe  or  Western 
Europe) it is really pleasant to work with a Polish team. On the other hand, Polish managers pay a huge attachment to hierarchy and related 
visual  benefits  with  a  much  noted  trend:  'Until  I  succeed  I  will  work  hard;  as  soon  as  I  am  a  Director  (i.e.  with  status  inside  the  company),I 
consider that it is no more my duty to work hard and I will just delegate everything (but without appropriate control). In that way, good middle 
managers  become  ineffective  directors.  The  employment  market  is  full  of  job  jumpers  ‐  young  managers  expecting  huge  money  for  low  real 
capacity. [French] 
Most of the above statements are related to my experience as compliance manager working over 10 countries in Europe and overseas.  
My experience in terms of Polish management style is then very limited and widely inspired by the experience of my wife who is Polish but with 
very international background as an executive. I generally agree that the management style is extremely formal and the freedom of speech is 
constrained.  That  of  course,  ,  has  consequences  for  team  spirit,  adaptability,  the  sense  of  taking  responsibility  and  also  in  the  value  Polish 
managers place on the company they are working for, their managers and shareholders. [French] 
Poland is a great experience and I do enjoy working with those people and this country which has a very good potential. [French] 
It is  difficult in  Poland  to  be  accepted  in  a  firm  when  you  are  foreign  because  the  team  will  see  you  as  a competitor  and  not  like  a  different 
culture  with  positive/different  ideas.  The  bigger  difficulty  is  to  get  your  CV  read  when  you  send  it  with  your  native  email  address:  in  80%  of 
cases, the Email will be deleted before reading!!!  About customer service, it’s still a little wild.  Customer should fight, you can see a report on 
this from one of my conferences done for the French Chamber of Commerce in Poland in 2004. [French] 
Polish managers are as good and as competitive as other managers in other European countries [French] 
There is a strong lack of formalism in action point follow‐up after meetings (there are rarely minutes, tracked action plans, ... except when expat 
managers make them directly or impose on someone to make them). There is a very surprising attitude of local managers during meetings: local 
managers listen but almost never take notes except when they have individually to do and which they then want to delegate as fast as possible 
to their teams. The attitude of most of local directors is to delegate and give orders but very rarely to help their teams reach objectives. There is 
not much loyalty to the company. [French] 
It  is  clear  to  me  that  company  management  is  now  reaching  a  junction:  not  fully  at  the  right  level  and  yet  having  accomplished  tremendous 
progress over the past years and being now empowered. It seems to me that the current challenge for foreign executives is to target their value‐
added and to get receptivity from local managers. Conversely, local managers have to pay attention and to admit that they are not always as 
good as they believe. [French] 
Generally,  local  managements  don't  respect  the  calendar;  they  always  change  hours  of  meetings  but  are  very  reactive.  They  work  more  for 
themselves and for their boss but are not so loyal to their company. [French] 

63  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Comments ‐ Poland 
Sales is more aggressive than in Western Europe, i.e. you claim more often that your product, company has the right features. [German] 
Business: I worked in 10 different countries so far ‐ the Polish employees belong to the most dynamic and ambitious people I have ever worked 
with. Private: It's tough to get in close contact with Polish people or even develop friendships on a private level. Mostly the expatriates stick 
together. [German] 
Very difficult to find people speaking English. [Indian] 
Most  of  these  answer  response  ONLY  for  Male  managers.  There  is  a  huge  gap  in  post  communist  countries  between  male  and  female  style, 
dedication skills etc even though the women are paid less. [Israeli] 
We have manager who thinks what it is to be manager and they really don't know what it means. The salary is absolutely wrong if we compare 
with  other  countries.  If  we  think  about  this  ratio:  (managerial  salary)/(blue  collar  production  salary)  is  well  outside  the  normal  market  value. 
[Italian] 
What  I  have  seen  in  local  managers  is  they  are  used  to  working  by  focusing  on  salaries  (overpaid  is  a  rule!),  on  their  working  time  (less  is 
possible)  and  on  responsibilities  (less  are  possible  and  preferably  without  taking  any  decision  ).  Due  to  this  situation  turnover  level  in  some 
"dedicated" positions (e.g. local purchasing manager and logistic manager) is very high. [Italian] 
Q36 is the key : expatriates are still needed , especially in start ‐up's in Poland , in order to guarantee adaptation to the Company's culture and 
ways of doing and in order to grant effective handling of problems originating in/with  the mother company  [Italian] 
Having lived and worked in Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland as well as working closely with other countries from the former 
communist bloc, I believe that overall Polish managers have the highest qualifications in CEE region. Furthermore, they are  open to adapt to 
other cultures and business environments, so the result is that they often end up in regional positions.   [Ukrainian] 
There is a variation based on age, with managers over 50 exhibiting much different tendencies than those younger. Older managers are more 
hierarchical and less independent. [USA] 
In my opinion our country's management culture isn't tolerant enough. There is quite high discrimination and a lack of diversity in employment. 
[Polish] 
Managers in Poland generally think they are less qualified and have less career chances than their colleagues from abroad. This is not justified 
and often is characteristic of Poles who feel inferior to other foreign nations.  [Polish] 

Romania 
Comments ‐ Romania 
Generally  the  labour  market  is  deserted.  Good  people  have  set  up  their  own  businesses  a  while  ago.  Poor  quality  of  education  (more  case 
studies than real science). [Austrian] 
There  is  a  different  between  the  young  generation  (30  ‐  35  years)  and  the  older  employees  or  managers.  I referred  to  the  young  generation 
which is keen to learn, ready to travel (we have already a lot of Romanian expats in other countries working for the company) and has a lot of 
creativity in solving challenges....and is also ready and not afraid to take over responsibility. Teamwork is already well perceived but has to be 
protected and fostered by senior management. [Austrian] 
Employees here are quite flexible and open to new things, eager to learn. Some weaknesses: planning and executing things needs to be done in 
a more systematic way (managing projects); "walking the talk" (do what you say you will do); balancing facts and emotions in decision‐making 
(emotions tend to be stronger). [Belgian] 
You have very competent local managers here in Romania but you have to find them and overpay them to come to your organisation. To make 
them  stay  in  your  organization  you  have  to  give  them  extra  benefits  in  their  salary  package.  The  biggest  challenge  today  is  the  almost  zero 
unemployment rate.  [Belgian] 
The meaning of the question 'You have lived outside this country for (in total)' is not clear. [British] 
The main issue is efficiency and productivity. Also I feel that decision making is not their strongest point. On the other hand, they are very hard 
working and that addresses the inefficiency issue to a certain extent. There are some extremely good talented managers as well but the overall 
percentage of highly effective managers is very low. [British] 
The culture is very hierarchical and the credo "knowledge is power" is alive and well in local management. Change is to be feared. [British] 
It takes a while to build confidence with local management. Although very formal in culture, after a while they can accept a more inter‐personal 
management style but only in the case of a superior manager. [Croatian] 
My answers may be a bit influenced by the sector that I work in (energy), where the "old mentality" still persists. [Czech] 
Many managers have responded to these opportunities by developing the behavioural strategies and skills which the new management culture 
seemed to value: overcoming status barriers between grades and levels. [Dominican] 
It  would  be  useful  to  have  ´I  have  no  experience'  character  in  the  menu.  It  was  quite  hard  to  answer  some  of  the  questions  without  any 
experience. Corruption doesn't really affect our company that much as we are foreign company with foreign customers. [Finnish] 
This country has a lot of potential.  However, there is no significant political decision in order to boost efficiently the economy of Romania. 
Our assistants are willing to learn and some of them have really the skills of management. Therefore, most of them are still to be guided and 
followed‐up. The fall of communism is still not too long ago and we need to be patient so as to give time  to a new generation of ''educated 
decision makers'' to come onto the stage. I do hope that the European directives will be put in place rapidly!!! [French] 
I  think  available  managers  with  real  skills  in  Romania  are  very  few.  We  have  either  rather  old  people  with  good  intentions  but  without  any 
decision capacity or young wolves who intend to make some money.  It means that the country will suffer for years (or a dozen years ) before 
creating a reliable layer of managers. [French] 
Local business people have achieved a lot in the last year. But surely the focus was on the business and the development of their opportunities. 
Organisation, governance, compliance, legal housekeeping tasks were treated step‐motherly. [German] 

64 
TARGET International Executive Search

Comments ‐ Romania 
Many similarities to other Eastern Countries, but some gaps. Personally, it's very easy as an Expert here. People are open. Language capability is 
extremely good. There are big differences between capabilities of the people. [German] 
To find good Managers and general good Engineers is very difficult in this country. 
Problems which need to be solved "immediately": 
1. Infrastructure: Motorway , Streets; Hospitals; Electricity; Building conditions 
2. School system: Kindergarten; Foundation; High school; Apprenticeship school must be more focused on the real needs of the company and 
very  important  ‐  must  be  done  together  with  the  industries.  Honestly...  I  can't  see  that  this  is  as  the  focus  at  the  moment  from  the 
apprenticeship  "institutes".  High  School  level,  needs  to  be  improved:1.  Focused  and  strong  theoretical  Semesters;  2.  Practical  traineeship 
semester in industry; 3. Thesis with clear targets.   The direction of University studies must be linked to the needs of industry. [German] 
Local employees, when assuming managerial positions, tend rather to act like small 'dictators' and have no respect for people in the same or in 
less  senior  positions.  This  destroys  team  spirit  and  creates  unpleasant  tensions,  leading  occasionally  good  employees  to  leave  for  the  wrong 
reasons and not for money. Local employees mostly appreciate a secure and motivating environment where they feel respected, their concerns 
are considered by the management and their career path is clear.  [Greek] 
Managers in general lack business sense and have an inability to see the big picture. The team work and general atmosphere is that of caution. 
Normally, people do not use humour to release stress. Normally people expect The Boss to know everything and problems get pushed upwards 
with a characteristic "SHRUG" of the shoulder. [Indian] 
Job  titles  are  very  important  for  employees.  It's  a  must  to  be  Director  or  at  least  Manager.  It  was  very  hard  to  find  people  in  the  technical 
department,  but  on  the  other  hand  we  had  over  50  applications  for  a  job  which  we  called  "production  enhancer".  It's  amazing  how  many 
persons just graduated from the University are already a "Managers". The salary expectations are quite often not fitting at all the reality. 
Q44: I don't know what they think about my salary, or if they even know my salary. [Swiss] 
I think it is a very well balanced, short and concise questionnaire. The questions are very clear. [Swiss] 
Romania  need expatriates for a certain time. After having the industrial cultures like others they can manage in proper way and in efficient way 
themselves. [Turkish] 
Romania can be a difficult place to work in that housing is expensive and inadequate and overall the cost of living has poor value for money.  The 
business environment is difficult due to increasing competition driving up the labour costs of inexperienced staff, which includes management. 
All staff, including managers in Romania work hard, however, there is a strong “the grass is greener someplace else” mentality. [USA] 
I moved to Romania.  There is too much individualism in the workplace here. The majority of workers tend to be only trying make themselves 
out to be the best so that they can get promoted. Customer satisfaction in businesses in Romania seems to be the last item thought about. [USA] 
I am not an expat but I had the opportunity to analyse other countries' work mentality. In my activity field which is international by definition 
there are a lot of differences in country's management culture. The major difference is the fact that in a very fast growing market like Romania 
there are not many human resources or not at least minimum trained.  [Romanian] 
Lack  of  trained  managers  and  the  many  foreign  companies  coming  in  and  starting  up  a  business,  created  a  "pedigree  CV"  kind  of  managers, 
having not much value but coming with impressive CVs (listing top companies they used to work for) and being able to get top positions and nice 
packages for which they are not at all prepared. They make a medium to bad job and then they move to another nice looking new company. 
Companies have no patience in building up their own staff and no strategies to  keep the  good people,  create a certain loyalty, an  "esprit de 
corps". [Romanian] 
For  sure  there  is  a  big  cultural  difference  between  Romania  and  other  foreign  countries,  so  everybody  should  adapt  and  make  efforts  in 
understanding this difference and act considering all these aspects. The big challenge for the expats is to adapt to this new culture for them. 
[Romanian] 
The local managers have got no constant in their work. To be constant is very hard at all levels.  [Romanian] 
I have been asked to fill in the questionnaire although I am Romanian and I am working here for many years. My point of view expressed in the 
questionnaire represents a mix between my experience in working with Romanian and multinational companies. I believe that the presence of 
expatriates  in  the  management  teams  of  local  companies,  being  locally  owned  or  under  foreign  control,  is  an  essential  asset  for  the  future 
economical development of Romania. The education and experience they bring in is extremely valuable for all Romanians who want to learn and 
to develop themselves. The multicultural exposure has a positive impact on both sides anyway!  [Romanian] 
The local management is expected to deliver similar performances as Western colleagues, not considering the lack of resources (HR and flows or 
services  in  interaction  with  the  suppliers  and  authorities).  I  find  it  frustrating  to  expect  more  involvement  and  time  spent  by  the  Romanian 
employees to cover local system deficiencies, whereas in the home countries the right for private life of employees is much better respected. On 
the other hand it might be true that the local managers themselves may not be always as efficient as foreign managers. [Romanian] 
Going affirmation by affirmation, I noticed that it is not easy to give a 'correct' answer, due to the fact that talking about local managers you can 
have many positive as well as bad examples of people. Most of them become managers inside big multinational companies. We can also talk 
about expatriates ‐ good examples and bad examples in terms of behaviour, attitude, etc. The difference consists in experience ‐ most of the 
expats have higher experience in terms of management behaviour and know‐how than the Romanians. From these points of view I would still 
say that Romania is in a period of creating a real management culture. This process is an ongoing one at this moment. [Romanian] 

Slovakia 
Comments ‐ Slovakia 
I currently have eight direct reports, out of which seven are Slovak and one is Scottish. I must say that the Slovaks are very open‐minded and 
very ambitious to learn something new and to adapt to out‐of‐the‐box situations. Most of the above questions would have been more positive if 
I had answered about the mentality of my direct reports only but since my answers are given in relation to the "general" situation in Slovakia 
they appear somehow a bit more negative. [Austrian] 

65  
Can Central and Eastern European management compete?

Comments ‐ Slovakia 
Slovak general culture seems to me very similar to Austria, though we had 100  years totally different history. I saw the same in Zagreb for 2 
years. Maybe the Habsburgs formed a longer lasting world than we thought... People in Slovakia are very well educated and have a strong will to 
work. The only thing that often needs amendment is their self‐awareness ‐ they do not market their value to the full. [Austrian] 
I experienced that there are few female managers in Slovakia:  most leaders are male. [Belgian] 
Local management tends to push responsibilities 'upwards'. Lack of team working leads to 'silo' behaviour. Organisations are more active‐based 
than process oriented. Poor knowledge of English (except for higher management). Quite friendly people   [Belgian] 
People here are open once you get their respect. [Belgian] 
I would not like to mix feelings on this survey. I do love living in Slovakia and have a great passion for the people. However, my organisation and 
the region I live is not for sure the best place to make business. It is very complicated, with absenteeism over 6% average and turnover of 15% to 
20%.  People are very conservative and often do not give their best to the business. Even though they are highly capable and get involved in all 
possible kinds of training program. They tend to ignore the information and a strong follow‐up is always needed to ensure the local manager 
accomplish their tasks.  [Brazilian] 
There is still an acceptance of the power of the civil servants and no strong attitude to challenging unnecessary bureaucracy. [British] 
I have found that Slovak management was very disorganised when solving problems and planning work. However, they quickly learned to adapt 
to new management styles and acknowledged the benefits. I have found it difficult to recruit qualified and experienced Managers in the area 
where we are based and have had to resort to employing lower level staff with a long development period to improve their skills. [British] 
The service culture in Slovakia is very poor. It is rare  to find good customer  service and therefore people do not expect it. This is sometimes 
challenging as, if the managers have never lived abroad or travelled extensively, their understanding and expectation of customer service is low 
and is not in line with a corporate understanding of customer satisfaction. We need to take it back to the start and show them what it means 
from a more Western point of view. A UK call centre or US as examples. Only then can they understand and then filter this down to their teams. 
[British] 
My answers to this survey might vary wildly depending on the hypothetical age of the local manager, and the organisation they work for.  As a 
consequence I find it difficult to answer the questions from a "typical stereotype" point of view. My organisation has a high population of young 
managers  who,  what  they  lack  in  experience  they  make  up  for  in  dedication  and  effort  (not  necessarily  meaning  long  hours,  but  more  how 
seriously they take the standard to which they do their job).  They also tend to adopt a much more "western" idea of customer service. Other 
organisations that I see, with older "managers", have a much more coercive style, and it seems to me that maintaining their hierarchal status 
through bullying and coercion of subordinates is much more important to them than maintaining two way relations with employees.  Their idea 
of customer service is very much that they are doing the customer a favour by allowing them to purchase something. [British] 
Decision making among Slovak managers is slow. There is a reluctance to operate across normal job boundaries. Reasoned and logical debate in 
argument  and  decision  making  is  not  strong.  There  is  an  over‐dependence  on  rules  and  a  tendency  to  concentrate  on  minutiae.  Political 
awareness when dealing with senior managers is not widespread. From interviewing many candidates for management positions the majority 
lacked energy and enthusiasm in the interviews and tended to talk about themselves and what they want and not how they manage people. 
Employees/Managers from Slovak companies attach a big status premium to management positions compared to professional ones without the 
manager  tag.  Generally  I  have  found  a  real  willingness  amongst  Slovak  managers  to  learn  from  "Western"  managers  and  a  desire  to  work  in 
culturally diverse companies.     [British] 
Younger managers perform better in a Western working environment. Older managers are better dealing with Eastern situations. The level of 
English in Slovakia is still relatively low. Bureaucracy is a problem that gets a little better every year. [Canadian] 
Language is the biggest problem for me in working in here. [Chinese] 
Managers in this country are too weak with decisions and they are afraid to take responsibility. They do not support people they manage and 
they do not have skills to understand employee needs, showing empathy, jealousy and ruthlessness. The major thing is not the problem with the 
education of the people which foreign companies like as they can control them more efficiently with labour costs. This country does not have 
real leaders which people can admire and follow. [Croatian] 
In general there is a lack of middle management in Slovakia, who also speak a foreign language fluently. Therefore less experienced managers 
get promoted to higher functions than in most Western European  [Dutch] 
What I would like to express is that local managers in Slovakia are good people but they miss for their managing job a lot of experience. That 
means that, for example, there is not a good relationship between schools and companies to work together during the students' courses. When I 
came  to  Slovakia  I  was  not  very  welcomed  because  I  had  different  ideas  and  a  different  way  of  looking  at  and  analyzing  facts  and  therefore 
drawing  conclusions.  Later,  I  found  out  that  I  was  more  appreciated  because  my  conclusions  were  more  accurate  and  gave  them  better 
performance. The working environment and the education environment should work more closely together therefore to achieve education in 
reality.  [Dutch] 
I  read  an  article  once,  which  says  everything  about  the  local  management  culture:"Slovak  managers  are  great  in  improvising  and  solving 
problems, because they don't know how to organize". This is mostly true about Slovak management. This is creating more and more problems 
for future growth. The LCC advantage will be gone in a few years, so people will have to be competitive on a base of quality, cost & delivery. This 
will create big problems for the near future and can take the economy back into crisis in Slovakia. [Dutch] 
It is not easy to reply to these questions. There are a lot of contradictions in my answers probably but there is a little of everything here. The 
main  issue  with  local  managers  is  that  they  are  not  well  explained  their  purpose,  and  find  it  difficult  then  to  properly  understand  what  is 
expected from them. On the customer service issue, people would like to give customers good service and everyone talks about it, but there is 
no concrete image behind these nice ambitions. Precise examples have to be pointed out. Any expatriate in Slovakia has to be EXEMPLARY ‐  or 
try to be, as no one, including me, is a perfect model. [French] 
Most of the managers in this country seem to me still very concentrated on their own situation (salary, bonus, benefit, car, etc...). They often 
lack initiative (expecting instructions from their boss). Big importance of interpersonal networks (in Slovakia everybody knows everybody!!!). Still 
difficult to avoid corruption in business relations. [French] 
My  working  environment  is  very  progressive  and  competitive.  My  manager  colleagues  are  highly  motivated  and  educated.  My  observation  is 
that my Slovak colleagues demonstrate a sharp mind and tend to learn quickly. The aim is to achieve a good (Western) living standard as quick as 
possible.  [German] 

66 
TARGET International Executive Search

Comments ‐ Slovakia 
Average age of local management team is 33; there are no local managers >37, as experience has shown that with local managers >40 years we 
have a totally different understanding of business from that required. So, the age of managers plays an important role to understand business 
requirements.  [German] 
Local management culture is a continuous balance between an education based on hierarchy and obedience, and the entrepreneurial spirit that 
is  fostered  also  by  the  growing  economy  and  the  young  generations.  The  key  success  (or  failure)  factor  in  my  view  is  to  make  the  sense  of 
obedience become a sense of belonging and responsibility that will bring a better and more outspoken leadership by local management. [Italian] 
I consider bureaucracy a serious problem for investors. The amount of permissions, certificates and investment in over safety issues could make 
investors give up the business in this country. On the other hand, the interest of the labour office in giving support to company needs is very 
limited and doesn’t help for recruitment or training of new employees. [Spanish] 
I think this is a good survey, Gives me good impression on seriousness and value by Target. I would say most people from CEE in management 
are very talented and skilled. Quick learners. However, a long time under the socialist and communist times for sure had an impact concerning 
responsibilities and so on. But younger people always find it very easy to act exactly as requested. Most of the time it is a lack of information 
from the owning "Western" company about what is required and then problems are created. Info about the cross‐cultural issues and the request 
is a very important issue. When that is done I think that CEE managers on average are perfect, skilled and ambitious.  [Swedish] 
People are very good at theory. However to translate this into practice is an issue. They don't have a helicopter view in general. Simple lack of 
quality people. After 3 years I have to say most of my managers have a great willingness to learn. [Swedish] 
When you talk about managers, it is very important to make the distinction between private companies and state run organizations that also 
have managers. There are two very different mentalities to consider. The customer relationship and personal contact IS very important but is 
not as available and its importance not recognized by the locals. Paying higher salaries gives you more of a choice but it is still very hard to find 
highly qualified managers who not only have the technical skills and the education but the right experience, attitude and vision. [Swiss] 
In general, I consider local management as maintaining status quo.  Finding a super performer is rare.  The skill sets are here but it takes a full 
generation to develop stronger business leaders. [USA] 
Local managers tend to be shy about speaking to groups of people. The lack of foreign languages for managers in the banking sector in Slovakia 
is surprising to me compared with the situation in neighbouring countries.   [USA] 
Q10 & Q25 possible confusion. Q10: there is sometimes a very big difference in relationship perception face to customer or to colleagues. Q25: 
preventive thinking is generally not present in local managers' behaviour (fireman managerial culture). The act of taking the initiative is more 
present but rare (Socialist slogan: The Individual taking initiative is worse than a class enemy.) Foreign companies in many cases were appointing 
very young or inexperienced foreign managers to high responsibility position. Appointment to a CEE branch replaced punishment like a holiday 
desert, HR warehouse or waste box (it depends on the origin of the mother company and the original managerial culture).  [Slovak] 
I  think  that  foreign  companies  are  able  to  find  here  in  Slovakia  very  responsible  and  fair  managers  who  want  to  work  really  hard,  very 
successfully  and  in  compliance  with  the  wishes  of  shareholders  or  owners  of  the  company.  On  the  other  hand,  managers  already  expect  the 
same demeanour from the companies. A win‐win position is highly appreciated. The days when "just working for a foreign company" was a big 
dream are already the past. [Slovak] 
1‐2‐3 level of AGREE to DISAGREE would be fair enough, as opposed to 6 levels. [Slovak] 
It's a great opportunity to participate in this survey. However, I have many years of experience working for international companies in Slovakia 
and my responses reflect the development in Slovakia within the last 5 years. [Slovak] 
Situation  is  getting  better  and  better.  More  and  more  Slovak  managers  have  international  experience,  are  studying  abroad  and  we  can  be 
optimistic. Some problems are connected with decisions of international companies to send to Slovakia (or other CEE countries) managers from 
Eastern Europe that are not capable enough or are of 3rd class. They very slowly admit the local managers' qualities and they do not know local 
specifications coming from our history, especially that sometimes soft management methods are not appropriate. Power distance here is really 
different. [Slovak] 
End of comments

67  
 

Acknowledgements 

The authors would first like to thank all of those who responded to the survey – we are most gratified at
the high level of response and by the thoughtfulness of many of the comments made. We would
especially like to thank Mariana Turanová, Managing Partner in Slovakia, Klemens Wersonig,
TARGET Group CEO and their colleagues at the various TARGET offices for their huge and tireless
help in the design, organisation and proof-checking of this study. Any mistakes that remain are ours.
We would also like to thank the usual excellent support of the Ad Capita Executive Search team in
Lisbon.

Clive Viegas Bennett


Chris Brewster

March 2009

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