Knowing the general attitudes is extremely important in Russia. Tankred Golenpolsky in his book Doing Business in Russia emphasized the need the right local partner in Russia by asking the following questions:
Where should you invest your money?
When should you invest your money?
How much money should you invest?
Answering these questions correctly can assure success elsewhere, but not in Russia. In Russia, everything begins with selection of the right partner to work for you (Golenpolsky 27-28). Having the right partner with the wide network of people is extremely helpful for starting your own business in Russia. Therefore, it is extremely important to know and understand Russian attitude and behavior patterns in order to deal with Russians and successfully build the relations in Russian environment. Later, the authors give the following recommendations on choosing the right candidate who "must meet some basic requirements such as fluency in English and an education background comparable to his or her Western colleagues. He or she preferably should be married since this indicates a degree of stability and seriousness, and the spouse must be ready to fit into a new system of relationships -relationships that did not exist in the former Soviet Union. (Golenpolsky 29-30)
Although food is plentiful in the cities, many products are expensive. Hence, the average person eats imported fruits and vegetables infrequently. People on fixed and limited incomes (mainly the elderly) eat more bread and potatoes than any- thing else. Urban residents more often have meat and dairy products. Rural people have gardens. Urban dwellers usually grow vegetable gardens in the country or on plots near the city. Traditional Russian foods include borsch (cabbage soup with beets), pirozhki (a stuffed roll, eaten as "fast food"), golubtsy (stuffed cabbage leaves baked with tomato sauce and eaten with sour cream), and shi (soup with sour cabbage). Borsch is still one of the most popular foods in the country. Its ingredients (potatoes, cabbages, carrots, beets, and onions) almost complete the list of vegetables used in everyday life. Pork, sausage, chicken, and cheeses are popular, but they can be expensive. Russians drink coffee and mineral water; juice and soda are available. Vodka is preferred to wine.
Russians have little leisure time because of the hours they devote to getting food, working extra jobs, or taking care of their households. Urban Russians spend nearly all their spare time at their dachas (country cottages), if they have them, relaxing and growing fruits and vegetables for the winter. In the summer, people Re to gather mushrooms. Cities have relatively few nightclubs and entertainment usually ends before midnight, even in Moscow.
The country's favorite sport is soccer. Winter sports such as ice skating, hockey, and cross-country skiing are also particularly popular. Most families like to watch television in the evening. Russia has a grand and abiding heritage in cultural arts. The people highly appreciate theaters and movies, but these are available only in big cities. Rural people can watch movies at community recreation centers called dvorets kultury (palace of culture) or the smaller dom kultury (house of culture)
New Year's Day is the most popular holiday in Russia. Almost everyone decorates fir trees and has parties to celebrate the new year. Grandfather Frost leaves presents for children to find on New Year's Day. Easter and Christmas observances, long interrupted by communism, regained their prominence in 1990. Christmas is on 7 January, according to the Julian calendar used by the Russian Orthodox Church. Women's Day is 8 March. Solidarity Day (I May, also known as May Day) is a day for parades. Victory Day (9 May) commemorates the end of World War II and is deeply important to most Russians.
The business week is 40 hours, with Saturdays and Sundays off. Offices generally are open from 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 p.m. They close at lunchtime (1:00 P.m.). Prices in stores are not negotiable, but prices are flexible on the streets, where an increasing number of items is sold. Capitalism is booming in Russia and a new generation of entrepreneurs is beginning to thrive. Numerous small businesses and joint ventures with foreign firms are finding success, and employees are buying state-run factories and working to make them profitable. Under communism, there were no incentives for bureaucrats to perform well or even be nice to clients, so the usual answer to any question was "No." This practice is still found in society, but "no" is no longer final. One must simply bargain and be persistent to get what one desires.
Russians prefer having social interaction before discussing business. Trying to do business on the phone without seeing the prospective business partner is ineffective. One often spends a lot of time in meetings before even a small deal can succeed. The business climate is characterized by the high level of uncertainty in Russia. However, any companies successfully adapted to the Russian environment. In the Rising Russia the following industries are of particular interest for foreign investors: gas and oil refinery and export of oil, pharmaceutical, food and food-processing industry, aluminum extraction and manufacturing. Leasing and franchising opportunities exist in agricultural sector where the government established a policy encouraging farmers to obtain the modern equipment. The number of contracts were signed with car manufacturing plants such as Vojskiy Avtomobiliniy zavod and Moskovskiy zavod. Russia welcomes the foreign investors but has a number of difficulties in it such as corruption and organized crime, difficult environment in business and tax laws, unsuitability of local currency and unstable political situation due to the war in Chechnya. However, the new Russian government took active steps toward the Chechen populations supporting the international terrorists and the terrorists who were fighting the Russian troops.
The First Chechen war cost a lot to the Russian government. The second war was more successful than the first one but still Russians are in the active process of guerrilla war with Chechen bandits. These challenges can stop potential investors from using the opportunities of 150 million people market.
Russia is a federation of autonomous republics and regions. Vladimir Putin succeeded Boris Yeltsin as a president. The president is strong and has power to dissolve parliament, set foreign policy, and appoint the Prime Minister. The Federal Assembly has two houses, a 176-seat Federation Council and the 450-seat State Duma. The Constitutional Court is Russia's highest. The voting age is 18. An array of political parties is represented in the Duma. The actual party names are less important than their alliances. Communists form the largest block, but not a majority, and nationalists and liberals form other substantial voting blocks. Recently, new Russian president implemented the measures for strengthening his power and ability to react and influence the national economy but many there are critics.
Russia's natural resources give it great potential for economic growth and development. Natural gas, coal, gold, oil, diamonds, copper, silver, and lead are all abundant. Heavy industry dominates the economy, although the agricultural sector is potentially strong. Russia's economy is weak and unstable. Liberal reforms designed to attract foreign investment and privatize the economy led to higher unemployment, high inflation (above I 00 percent), and lower production. Organized crime and corruption weigh heavily on the economy's ability to perform. Real gross domestic product per capita is $4,828. Poverty is increasing as fast as wealth. The currency is the ruble (R). Nearly all transactions are made in cash.
Education is free and mandatory for everyone between ages six and seventeen. In 1994, new curriculum guidelines were introduced to encourage choice and innovation over previous approaches to teaching, but many public schools are unable or unwilling to implement the reforms due to lack of money and clear local leadership. However, a few are embracing new ideas and even teaching basic market economics to young children. Students attend primary, middle, and high school. They can specialize in their last two years. Private schools offer a high-quality education to the wealthy and influential. Education is highly valued, and Russia's literacy rate is 99 percent. More than five hundred universities, medical schools, and technical academies are found throughout the country. Russians have a distinct advantage of a high-standard education and they are actively using their intelligence. Russian large intellectual potential and a system of educating brains even with its drawbacks has produced a number of talented people who can work at least at the same level as their Western counterparts. Unfortunately, this educational potential is not fully utilized by the current condition of the Russian economy. The facts on Russian immigration to such developed countries as Canada, Australia, New Zealand or United States confirms this fact. (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/newcomer/welcome/index.html). The educational potential of the nation is probably the most important factor that can bring the nation to the family of the high-industrialized nations.