How to Do Business in Turkey
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is strategically positioned at the crossroads of Europe,
Asia and the Middle East and the U.S. is Turkey’s
fourth largest trading partner. Careful planning and patience
are the keys to succeed in Turkey. Companies like Microsoft,
Coca-Cola, GE, Procter & Gamble and Phillip Morris,
as well as international investment institutions like the
World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation
have already selected Turkey as a regional base.
Turkey is fast becoming a production centre
for Europe in diverse industries, but in particular in automotives.
English is the dominant language for international business.
The currency is the Turkish lira.
With her high growth potential, qualified
workforce and managers, and the entrepreneurial spirit,
Turkey provides an important potential market for global
businesses. Furthermore, regional political stability can
only be established on a sustainable basis if the economic
development spreads throughout the region. The engine for
growth in the Balkans, Caucuses, Central Asia, and the Middle
East is likely to be Turkey.
Turks are extremely patriotic. They are proud of their
ancestors and of the achievements of their modern society.
The family is the most important social unit. Each person
is dependent upon and loyal to the family. Rural life is
still traditional, but in cities women frequently work outside
Meeting and Greeting
- Shake hands with everyone present—men,
women and children—at a business or social meeting.
Shake hands with elders first. Shake hands again when
- It is common for Turkish men and women
to cheek-kiss one another when meeting and parting.
- "Yes” is a slight downward
nod of the head. “No” is a slight upward nod
of the head while making a quick, sucking sound through
your two front teeth (like “tsk”).
- Turks generally have a small area of
personal space and may stand closer than most foreigners
are used to.
- Never point the sole of your foot toward
- Turks, most of whom are devout Muslims,
may avoid looking into your eyes in a display of humble
- Do not stand with your hands on your
hips when talking to others, especially older people or
superiors, or put your hands in your pockets.
- In Turkey, putting your thumb between
your first two fingers is the equivalent to raising your
middle finger in the United States.
- The “O.K.” sign in Turkey
means that someone is homosexual.
- Turks take punctuality for business
meetings very seriously and expect that you will do likewise;
call with an explanation if you are delayed.
- Consideration, politeness, respect and
courtesy are very important to the Turks. Shake hands
with each person upon arriving at an office. When visiting
a factory, shake hands with all the workers when you arrive
and again when you leave.
- Turks engage in small talk before they
begin business discussions.
- Decisions are made at the top.
On the Bosphorus, photo taken by Mark Ritter
Dining and Entertainment
- Be punctual for a dinner party. 7:00
p.m. means 7:00 p.m.
- Business can be discussed at anytime
during the meal, but you must get a feel from your business
- Some Turks who are Muslim drink alcohol,
but those Turks who are strict Muslims never do.
- Hosts will probably expect you to eat
a great deal and may be offended if you don’t.
- When finished eating, leave no food
on your plate, and place your knife and fork side by side
on your plate.
- “Dutch treat” does not exist
in Turkey. If you invite someone to dine, you pay the
- For business, men should wear conservative
suits or a sports coat and tie. In very hot weather, men
may go without a jacket, but they still wear a tie.
- Women should wear suits, dresses and
heels. Avoid short skirts, low-cut blouses or shorts.
- Always bring the hostess a gift when
invited to someone’s home. Do not bring a gift that
is too lavish. Give: flowers (roses or carnations), candy,
chocolates, wine (if host drinks). Do not give alcohol
if you are not sure whether your host drinks.
- Don’t expect your hostess to open
a gift when presented.
- Gifts may be exchanged in business.
Give gifts made in America that are not expensive, i.e.
crystal, desk accessories, pens, gifts with company logo.
Do not give overly personal gifts.
- Turks ask even casual acquaintances
what Americans consider to be very personal questions
(age, salary, etc.). However, do not ask such personal
questions until a friendship has been established.
Especially for Women
- Foreign women are very welcome and accepted
- In general, conservative attitudes toward
women exist in Turkey, but Turkish men tend to be very
- It is acceptable for a foreign businesswoman
to invite a Turkish businessman to dinner, and it is easy
for her to pay.
Excerpted from eDiplomat; adapted from
material compiled by Window on the World, a cross-cultural
training and consulting firm. Originally based on material
contained in the “Put Your Best Foot Forward”
series of books by Mary Murray Bosrock.
International Education Systems
1814 Hillcrest Avenue, Suite 300
St. Paul, MN 55116
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