Excerpted from the Argentina Career Guide
It is difficult to overstate the value Argentines place upon personal relationships. They maintain large networks of family, friends and colleagues upon whom they can call for assistance.
Argentina is world famous for its beef. Argentines consume an estimated 70 kilograms of meat per person per year, usually at the traditional asados (barbecues).
Argentines are mad about fútbol (football/soccer). Argentina has produced some of the world's finest players and has twice won the World Cup.
Although punctuality is expected, it should not be surprising if an Argentine colleague arrives late to meetings. In general, the more important the person in the corporate hierarchy, the more likely it is he or she will keep the other participants waiting.
When talking to one another, Argentines generally stand closer and are more apt to touch each other than are Europeans or North Americans. Personal space is quite small, and it is considered impolite for a person to back away when in conversation with another.
The majority of the population of Argentina speaks Spanish, though many Argentines speak English. Executives will generally speak English as well as other European languages, including Italian and German.
If You Want to Act Like a Local...
- Argentines rarely will invite someone to their homes who is not a relative or very close friend. When one is invited to eat at someone’s house, it is customary to bring wine, chocolates or a dessert. If invited, you should dress with care at these events; even at an asado (outdoor barbecue), people wear nice, casual clothing.
- It is considered good manners to appreciate the art in the house, as well as to praise other details that may catch a visitor’s attention. Be careful, however, not to admire a particular possession of the host to excess; he or she may insist on giving it to you, and you will be expected to accept.
- At asados, men grill the meat while women prepare the table, side dishes and desserts.
- If drinking mate, drink it all. To refuse a mate, simply say gracias.
Although Argentines are fashion-conscious and like to keep up with clothing trends — especially those from Europe — Argentine businesspeople tend to be formal and conservative regarding style and color. At work, a suit or coat and tie for men and skirt or trousers for women is the norm. At law firms and accounting offices, people tend to be more formal, whereas in design and advertising companies, people dress more casually. ‘Casual Fridays’ are common in some companies.
In Argentine business culture, the ability to ‘fit in’ and maintain cordial relations with the group or team are as desirable as professional competence and experience. Flexibility and spontaneity are greatly prized, and establishing rapport and friendships are important for conducting business and solving problems. Managers are expected to be dignified and authoritative and, in turn, they expect to receive respect.
It is important that you be punctual for business meetings. The best days for holding them are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, as Mondays and Fridays are considered difficult because of their proximity to the weekend. It is important to note almost all Argentines take time for lunch and prefer not to discuss business issues during a meal. Meetings ideally will be confirmed a week in advance, but are more commonly coordinated in an improvised manner for the earliest time everyone’s schedule appears open.
This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the Argentina Guide.