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Germans maintain a thorough approach to their work Germans have managed to maintain their reputation for high-quality work even under the pinch of shorter working time - because of their tradition of thoroughness. As alluded to above, when Germans work, they usually work hard. But thoroughness takes time - even for a people so well-schooled in it. Many foreigners get dismayed by how long this thoroughness can take here. This is particularly true when a decision has to be made. Whereas in other societies, a company or supplier may decide the matter somewhat quickly and then work out details of that decision later, in Germany it's more likely that many of the details will need to be worked out before any decision is made.

There are exceptions to every rule, but it would be a fair statement to say that the Germans are risk averse. If you come from a "just do it" business culture, you may become frustrated by this propensity to look at all sides of an issue before making a final decision. This frustration can also come up within your own company when you're involved in a project where you feel that enough information has been gathered to reach a decision and press ahead with the next phase. Unfortunately, you're apt to discover that your colleagues or boss believe that more work, more study, more tests are required before that all-important final decision is made.

Just as likely, you may encounter frustration while waiting for a reply from a company you're hoping to do business with, or even hoping to join. It's always possible that incompetence lurks behind the delay or that the company has simply put your matter on its back burner. More probable, though, is that they want to investigate a number of aspects more thoroughly before moving ahead.

The upside of this delayed process is that when you do get informed of the company's decision, much of the next stage of the transaction - working out the details - will have already been attended to from the other side.

But working or doing business in Germany entails a good deal more than just shifting your work day forward an hour or two and making extra efforts to keep your nose to the grindstone. Just as German society evidences a dominant character, there is a certain specific character to German business and whether you enjoy your work here and are successful at it may depend on your adapting to this culture.

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