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Organisational and corporate culture

Turkish corporate culture

Turkey is fundamentally characterised by a strong east-west gradient, whereby the West is more Europe-oriented, the East more conservatively structured.
In order to enter the Turkish market successfully, cultural characteristics must be considered in all cases in order to minimise company-internal resistance and/or conflict between the corporate partners.

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Management style

Turkish society is still structured in a stronglyhierarchic fashion. This is also reflected in company structures and the style of management.
The few rich holdings (Koç, Sabancı etc.) are firmly in the hands of influential families. A rapid rise up the career ladder in a company purely on ability without the corresponding background is virtually impossible. Emotion and volatility are often the main characteristics of management style.

Hand-in-hand with this is the fact that the ‘pecking order’ within the company is clearly set out and constructive criticism from ‘underlings’ is not common.
The status quo is maintained by the superiors by means of loyal and respectful dealings with their subordinates. Recently, there have been clear signs of efforts to gradually adopt the management styles of the USA and Europe.
Companies are thus very keen to send their executive management on business exchanges abroad.

Market entry strategies

In order to use the Turkish market, it must first be decided which market entry strategy should be adopted:
Should a new company be established?
Is a strategic cooperation with a Turkish partner or even a joint venture envisaged or should an existing Turkish company be taken over?
The strategies have differing advantages and disadvantages that need to be assessed for the project in hand:

  • Company founding: low market entry speed, as company is starting from scratch; however, low cultural risk as the correct mix of employees from the parent company and local workers at the outset will usually be successful
  • Strategic alliances/cooperation: safe alternative without too much risk
  • Joint Ventures with a Turkish company: combining resources entails the risk of cultural conflict; clear allocation of responsibilities to the involved companies minimises the risk
  • Company take over: due to the existing corporate culture and organisational structure, a high risk of culture conflict when the new staff is not appointed with inter-cultural  competence (common mistake!); an extensive re-staffing of the executive positions should be avoided

Challenges during creation of effective and efficient organisational structures

The cultural differences between westernised companies and Turkish companies are apparent when it comes to setting up an efficient organisational structure within the Turkish company. The following factors should be continuously kept in mind and adequately reacted to in order to avoid internal resistance:

  • Turkish companies place more emphasis on people than on clear task demarcation.
  • This is, however, coupled with a strong loyalty to the company
  • Group formation makes the entry of new employees more difficult.
  • The respect of leaders can cause weak controls to seem sufficient

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