Ukraine’s new business ombudsman speaks frankly about differences in business culture between Ukraine and the West

31 January, 05:03 PM
Roman Waschuk (Photo:Office of the Business Ombudsman)

Roman Waschuk (Photo:Office of the Business Ombudsman)

Ukrainian business is still largely dependent on interpersonal relations rather than formal procedures and documents, former Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine and newly appointed Business Ombudsman of Ukraine Roman Waschuk has said in an interview with NV magazine.

“When Western businessmen try to explain (business in) Ukraine, they say that this is a country where business is built on personal relationships,” Waschuk said.

“That’s such a polite way of putting it. That is, a lot depends on interpersonal relations, and not only on formal procedures and documents. It was like that back in the 1990s, in the 2000s, and it’s still like that in a lot of sectors in Ukraine.”

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At the same time, he said that Ukrainian businesses that have already gone global follow business practices are similar to those in the United States, Canada or Europe.

“For instance, in the IT sector – all these atavisms no longer have any role,” Waschuk said.

In other sectors, however, Washcuk said it was still common for “a contract to be the beginning of a discussion, and not the end of it.”

“In Ukraine, it happens like this: we’ve signed (a deal), and now we will agree on how it will actually work,” he said.

Waschuk also noted another extreme aspect when concluding contracts in Ukraine: Everything has to be recorded down to the last comma.

“This puts a lot of pressure on business relations, to the extent where everything has to be sorted out by hand in the end,” he said, saying that the main thing that business in Ukraine lacked was not money, but trust.

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