Tips for the Business Traveller to Israel
Israel is a technologically advanced market economy with a highly skilled and well-educated workforce. Cultural life is vibrant, restaurants and beaches are crowded, and there is a lot of business being conducted. The United States is Israel's largest trading partner, and there are opportunities here for U.S. exporters. A recognized leader in high-tech industries, Israel's investment in research and development is higher than any single OECD country. In fact, after the United States and Canada Israel has the most companies listed on the NASDAQ.
Israel Business Environment
Israel's population of 6.7 million lives in an area roughly the size of New Jersey. The business environment and style here will seem familiar to American businesses, but personal relationships can play a relatively larger role within Israel's tight-knit population than in the United States. Israel's per capita income is 75% of the average in OECD nations, and remained strong through the recent economic slowdown.
Visiting U.S. companies find Israel’s business environment very similar to that in the United States. It is a professional and westernized business environment and most U.S. business persons feel very comfortable doing business here. Appointments can be made on fairly short notice, but punctuality is desired. Usually, Israelis arrive well prepared for meetings and are very direct. Business cards in English or in English and Hebrew are recommended. It is very expensive and often a difficult task to have business cards made at short notice in Israel. Major hotels will likely offer to make photocopies of a sample card if you need additional cards at short notice. It is often better to have these photocopied cards than no cards at all. Email addresses and websites should be included with your contact information.
Israel Business Practices
Israelis are familiar with the fact that most U.S. businesspeople dress formally for meetings. However, this does not mean they will be dressed formally, and especially in the summer months it is very uncommon to wear coat and tie, except for very formal meetings. Business suits are appropriate for meetings with VIPs, some private sector companies, and senior government officials. In general, American business travelers will find business dress in both the private sector and government offices to be much less formal than in the United States. English is widely spoken in the business community and in government offices, but knowing and using a few words in Hebrew, especially introductory phrases and greetings, can be very useful. Most businesses and government offices are open 40-45 hours/week, Sunday thru Thursday. It may be possible to schedule business appointments for Friday morning, but no appointments or business are done on Saturdays. Common office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Retail outlets are open Sunday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and on Fridays, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Shops in malls usually remain open until around 10:00 p.m. Banks are open in the mornings, Sunday through Friday and twice a week in the afternoon. The American Embassy in Tel Aviv is open 8-4:30 Monday-Friday.
Israel is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and does observe Daylight Savings Time.
Tips for the Business Traveler to Israel
(taken from http://www.israelmarketing.com/doingbusiness.html)
Israelis, Americans, Europeans and Asians all view space, time and values from a different place. If we are all to expect the Israeli, or the Japanese or the French to act, to behave in the exact manner - then we will be greatly disappointed! Many businesspeople from the States come to Israel expecting to do business as if they were still in New York, California or Texas. The smiles and handshakes look the same, even the suits and ties, but after a few minutes have passed, both sides, which have come together with great respect and mutual admiration - feel something is not right! The Israeli, who is often perceived as being arrogant, aggressive and pushy, is actually being direct and honest. And the American, European and Asian, who are seen by the Israeli as being artificial, phoney and weak - are actually displaying politeness and respect. If both sides are to go into a commercial venture, without taking the time to understand each others cultural traits - they are heading for disaster!
Don't be fooled by the modern office furniture, mobile telephones, new shopping malls, the one million McDonald restaurant outlets and the 100 dollar ties. The Israeli is a different animal - and to be successful in business with him you must understand how they see you and where they come from. Israeli society is what is referred to as a polychronic culture (relationship-oriented), in contrast to American, British or German culture which is monochronic (rule-oriented). In the relationship oriented Israeli culture feelings and emotions are primary, while intuition and objective facts are secondary! Israeli culture can be viewed as witnessing one large family. In a family, one can dismiss formality and act in a direct, immediate and honest fashion. What can be excused in a "family" as being direct - is often interrupted outside of the family or Israel's borders as being rude or impolite.