Business World

How German Companies Could Be Successful in Turkey?

14 January 2014

As the original texts are written in Turkish, English translation is provided for non-Turkish readers. The author apologizes in advance for any and all possible changes and losses in meaning due to translation.

There is a saying in Turkey: “One cup of coffee is worth 40 years of friendship.” In other words, long-term relationships are essential for social life and business. For this, Siemens began operations in Turkey more than 150 years ago. Here, we are considered a Turkish company with German roots.

Since the early beginnings of our activities, Siemens has touched many lives and been a pillar in the development of the Turkish industry. We are among the first companies to bring power to Turkish cities, lights to Ottoman Palaces, and television infrastructure to households. In 1913, Siemens introduced Turkey’s first railway tram. So it is especially meaningful to us that exactly 100 years later, [Remark 1] in 2013, Siemens has delivered the first very-high-speed train to the Turkish government.

Because it bridges West and East, Turkey is an attractive hub for production and services. As the world’s 16th largest economy and a member of the EU Customs Union, Turkey offers many opportunities for German companies. One of Turkey’s greatest assets is its educated and dynamic workforce of 4.5 million young people who embrace the new. A new generation of self-confident businesswomen and businessmen is growing, and they move fluently between the cultures of the East and West. Diversity has many facets other than a young population. One factor that differentiates Turkey is its large population of female engineers, lawyers, and project managers. Cultivating such diverse intellectual capital is essential for success in Turkey.

Awareness of cultural dimensions is crucial when doing business in any country. Although in many other countries we speak the same business language, we learned that speaking the same language does not mean sharing a culture. Turkey has been undergoing a transition of re-inventing itself, trying to find its own path into the future. Although the West provides a crucial benchmark, Turkey’s new generation, in particular, is finding its path to the future by combining the values and cultures of the East and West.

Turks are spontaneous, enthusiastic, and ready to take risks; contemplating strategy comes somewhat later. This might be different from what Germans are used to; however, this gives the Turks an advantage of time and speed in doing business. German companies first think about the strategy risks and then move forward. Not surprisingly, they are sometimes thought to be slower-moving, cautious, and hesitant. To succeed in a country like Turkey, it is crucial to combine strengths, cultures, and values without prejudice.

With three production facilities and 3,000 employees in Turkey, Siemens has contributed to value-added production and R&D and established a service network all over the country. We believe our long-term success depends on understanding Turkey’s business culture and gaining the trust of customers and society there while working hard for sustainability. In addition, this success also depends on believing in ourselves, in what we do, and in being able to think outside the box to reach targets.

Ensuring one’s sustainability in a country also depends on what you give back to its society.  At Siemens, we support the higher education of promising students in Turkish universities. In providing scholarships for students in engineering disciplines, we give priority to female and disabled students. We have established an Arts Exhibition Center in Istanbul to support young artists, and we provide scholarships for young opera artists in Turkey to continue their education in Europe. Just as Siemens has advanced the development of Turkish industry, we are proud to be part of the country’s cultural developments.

As a German company that has enjoyed success in Turkey for 150 years, our recommendation to other German companies is to achieve sustainable business in Turkey. Recently, the Turkish economy has transformed into a more open and liberal economy, and business is becoming less bureaucratic. In a developing economy like Turkey’s, companies must adapt to changes in the business climate on time and with the right actions, which can be achieved by sustainability.

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