Ethnic groups: 86.4 percent European, 8.5 percent Mestizo, 3.3 percent Arab, 1.6 percent Amerindian, 0.4 percent Asian and others
Language: Spanish, Italian, Arabic, German, Chinese, Korean, English, Brazlian, Portugese, French
Capital: Buenos Aires
National holidays: New Year’s Day (Jan 1), Human Rights Day (Mar 21), Holy Thursday, Good Friday (move each year), March 24 and 25 (Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice), April 2 (Day of the veterans and the fallen in Malvinas War), May 1 (Labour Day), May 25 (Day of the First National Government), June 20 (National Flag Day), July 9 (Independence Day), August 17 (Anniversary of the death of General José de San Martín), October 12 (Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity), November 20 (Day of National Sovereignty), December 8 (Immaculate Conception Day), December 24 (Christmas Eve), December 25 (Christmas Day), December 31 (New Year’s Eve). Many dates are moveable or floating so check with the Argentinian embassy before travel.
Business hours: Mon-Fri approx. 8-12pm, 2-7pm / 8am – 5pm in Buenos Aires
Argentina is the second largest country in South America, made up of 23 provinces and the autonomous city of Buenos Aires
. It is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, and the eighth largest country in the world by land area. Argentina is South America’s third largest economy; in recent years, it has been classed as an emerging economy due to its potential market size and percentage of high-tech exports.
is Argentina’s official language, and the most prominent dialect is Rioplatense. However, a mix of other languages is spoken. According to Ethnologue there are around 1.5m Italian speakers in Argentina, along with a million speakers of North Levantine Arabic. German is spoken by just under half a million Argentines. Some indigenous societies throughout Argentina speak their original languages. In recent years, Chinese and Korean have been brought to Argentina by immigrants. English, Brazilian, Portuguese and French are also spoken.
Argentina is a class-conscious society, and this is reflected in its business structures, with very hierarchical integration throughout the country. Businesses are often referred to as ‘relationship-driven,’ whereby the chain of command is more likely to be built upon relationships rather than titles and seniority. This can be very confusing for outsiders, as there is no obvious indication (i.e. title, size of office) to who you should be speaking to. Hiring a local guide can help.
Because of this culture, you need to make sure you are speaking to the right person when trying to conduct business. Cultures based on personal relationships are likely to concentrate power in certain people, so you lose time and money by negotiating with the wrong people.
Meetings are popular in Argentina as face-to-face communication is preferred. Informal pre-meeting and post-meeting chats are common, and will rarely relate to business. Taking part in these is essential – Argentinians like to build personal relationships and will look poorly on distant participants.
The level of preparedness for meetings will vary widely – don’t assume either way. The country has a history of oppression and therefore Argentinians appreciate flexibility and empathy, so make sure you are aware of this. Punctuality is very important, but – just as official business structures are often bypassed, expect the meeting to deviate heavily from the agenda.
Be prepared for some difficulty when arranging meetings – few are made in advance as many Argentinians are keen to have daily control of their schedules.
Clear divisions, right from the beginning, are important when working in teams in Argentina. Vague divisions can cause uncertainly; because of Argentina’s history, no one likes to tread on someone else’s toes or undermine their power. Make sure you don’t leave anything unsaid; make it all clear right from the start.
It’s also important to realise that strong bonds are important in Argentina, so the emphasis will always be on building a strong relationship. The axiom of doing business with people you ‘know, like and trust’ is true in Argentina – its history of oppression has cemented the importance of building lasting relationships, even in business. Teams must be given enough time for these relationships to develop, not just thrown into a task and expected to deliver quickly.
Making an impression is important in Argentina, so do take the time to dress well. Business dress should be conservative for both men and women. Women can wear dark suits or a white blouse and skirt. Never dress like a local.