Turkey flag Turkey: Business Environment

Business Practices in Turkey

Opening hours and bank holidays

General Information
Commisceo Global, Turkish business culture as per Commisceo Global
Services for business, Global Affairs Canada
E-Diplomat, Turkish business culture as per E-Diplomat
Opening Hours and Days
Banks are open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Monday to Friday).
Public administration offices: from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Monday to Friday).
Shops: from 9:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Monday to Saturday) and shopping malls from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (seven days a week).

In some Aegean and Mediterranean regions, public administration offices and some establishments close in the afternoon during the summer season. These opening hours are fixed every year by Provincial Governors.

 
 
 

Public Holidays

New Year's Day (Yilbasi) 1 January
Children's Day (Çocuk Bayrami) 23 April
Youth and Sports Day (Gençlik Bayrami) 19 May
Victory Day (Zafer Bayrami) 30 August
Republic Day (Cumhuriyet Bayrami) 29 October
Aid al-Adha (Kurban Bayrami) Varies each year
Aid al-Fitr (Ramazan Bayrami) Varies each year
 

Business culture

The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
Turkish business culture is similar to the rest of the countries around the Mediterranean. While Turkey is predominantly Muslim and the influence of Islam is visible in daily life, religious values have little importance in business. Trust, confidence and loyalty go a long way in securing a good deal as personal relationships are crucial to Turkish professionals. Bargaining is another predominant feature of engaging in business in Turkey and foreigners should be prepared to make a few concessions (or give the impression of it) when negotiating.

Decisions are usually made from the top down and the hierarchy is clearly defined at most firms. While more modern management methods have been introduced in large corporations, the most senior people continue to make decisions. Middle management usually implements policy and procedures. If the ideas are generated by staff, they are expected to pass them on to the immediate supervisor who will then present them to the upper management. Decision-making tends to slow as senior managers, who have the final word, get involved much later in the negotiation process after a certain level of trust has been established.

Personal relationships are extremely important when securing a deal with Turkish companies. Turks usually want to get to know their foreign counterparts personally as they most often seek long-term relationships. Coming across as too impersonal or guarded can make the Turkish view foreigners with suspicion and reluctant to follow through. While communication is courteous and indirect at first, it tends to become direct and less formal later on. Follow-up phone calls are preferred over e-mails to maintain a close relationship.
First Contact
Appointments should be made at least one to two weeks in advance, preferably over the phone. An intermediary contact may be useful to set up meetings, especially with more senior partners; however, this is not always necessary. Nevertheless, foreigners should be prepared to meet less senior partners in the first meetings, as high-ranking executives are reluctant to engage unless negotiations are advanced and a certain level of trust has been established. It is advisable to avoid scheduling a first meeting in the high season of summer (July and August), as people tend to be out of office. The month of Ramadan may also not be a good idea, especially when engaging in business with smaller and more traditional companies or in more conservative parts of the country. Turks working for large corporations are usually proficient in English; however, it is a good idea to check whether an interpreter will be necessary.
Time Management
Punctuality is expected and appreciated. Foreigners are expected to arrive on time; however, they may be kept waiting. It is important to plan ahead in order not to be late, as road congestion is a major problem in large cities, especially in Istanbul. Meetings may run overtime and the agenda usually serves as a starting point for discussion. Large corporations tend to have a stricter view of time and schedules.
Greetings and Titles
Handshakes are the most common form of greeting. They tend to be relatively firm for men and lighter for women. When meeting someone from the opposite gender, women are expected to extend their hand first. If the woman does not extend her hand, a nod with a smile will suffice. Devout Muslims may refrain from shaking hands with someone from the opposite gender. Titles are somewhat important, especially in the first meetings before the parties get to know each other. The most common form of addressing a business partner would be to use their first name, followed by 'Bey' (Mr) or 'Hanım' (Mrs or Miss). It is not common to address a business partner using Mr or Mrs with their surname (a combination of Bay and Bayan+surname). If the business person has a professional title, such as Dr or Prof, you can address them by their title only, or use their title followed by their first name.
Gift Policy
Gift giving is not a common at business meetings in Turkey. However, if a gift is given it will be appreciated. A food delicacy to share or a craft item from your home country is a good idea.
Dress Code
Business attire tends to be formal and conservative regardless of the industry. Suit with shirt and tie is the most common outfit for men; however, suits without tie are also acceptable in many situations. The attire can be less formal in hotter months/areas. Skirt with shirt/blouse and dresses are common for women, more so than suits and trousers.
Business Cards
There is no specific protocol surrounding the exchange of business cards. Turkish professionals may not always be interested in exchanging business cards; therefore, it is usually a good sign if they are the ones extending their business card first after an initial meeting. Having one side of the card translated into Turkish can impress; however, this is not always necessary.
Meetings Management
Meetings always start with some small talk and it is considered rude to directly delve into negotiations. Small talk is likely to include questions that would be considered personal in North American or Western European countries; however, foreigners should not refrain from engaging in conversation. Some of the preferred topics of discussion (beside personal matters) include: Turkish culture, sports and food. Politics, history and religion are to be avoided. The first meeting serves the purpose of establishing trust, and most senior managers, who have the final word, are only likely to meet foreigners when a certain level of trust has been established during the negotiation process.

The Turkish can be astute business people and show great interest in a clear and well-structured presentations. Turks tend to prefer oral and visual communication in addition to written statistics; therefore, it is a good idea to present information vocally and include maps, graphs and charts. Negotiating can be tough as Turks like to bargain extensively before agreeing to anything. It is considered rude not to engage in some form of bargaining, and it is not advisable to start off with your best offer. Turks are likely to start at extremes to gauge your response. It is important to have your target figure in mind before negotiating and work slowly towards it through meaningful concessions. It is also a good idea to give the impression that you present your concession as a favour and a decision made out of respect and liking for your Turkish counterpart. Concession should not offered unless another reciprocal concession has been reached on a separate or related issue. While Turks like to bargain, pressure tactics and hard-selling tend to backfire, as they will use this to their advantage and may even threaten to end negotiations. When negotiating, it is not always necessary to focus solely on financial benefits. Non-monetary gains, such as power, influence, honour and respect could also be extremely helpful.

Turks tend to prefer courteous and indirect communication at first; however, the relationship can become less formal and much more direct along the negotiation process. Humour is appreciated, especially in later stages of negotiations. Nevertheless, you should remain considerate and respectful no matter how close you become with your Turkish counterparts. Maintaining eye contact while speaking is important as it is seen as a sign of sincerity. Refreshments are usually served in meetings and it is considered rude to refuse them.

Business entertaining is an important part of the negotiation process and is seen as an opportunity for both parts to get to know each other. Dinner is the most common of entertaining; however, lunch and breakfast are also not unheard of. It is recommended to be punctual for lunch/dinner reservations. Business can be discussed at any time during the meal. Nevertheless it is best to wait for the Turkish counterpart to bring up the subject. Foreigners are expected to eat a great deal and Turks may be offended if you do not. The host is always expected to pay the bill.

Sources for Further Information
Cultural Atlas - Turkish Business Culture Commisceo - Turkey Business Etiquette Career Addict - How to Master Business Etiquette in Turkey Culture Crossing - Turkish Business Culture

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Latest Update: June 2022