As anyone who has completed an international assignment will tell you, each country has cultural differences and norms that can make expatriate life challenging. In this post, we will examine some of the aspects of culture in Ireland, a common location for international assignments. Below, our long-time trusted partner, IOR Global Services, provides important information for successful cultural integration.

Quick Facts

  • Individualism & Competition: In Ireland, self-reliance and independent thinking are valued, although a strong sense of family and group remains prevalent. The Irish generally believe that competition brings out the best in people and produces innovation. In professional settings, employees are not closely monitored and are given the opportunity to take initiative and pursue creative solutions.
  • Relationship Orientation: The Irish place great emphasis on personal interaction and devote time to getting to know people, as fostering relationships is important to business. Hospitality and friendliness tend to be highly valued and there is an appreciation for personally getting to know prospective business partners and clients.
  • Equality: Class differences persist but to a far lesser degree than previous times. Women are present in all industries and in government, but expectations for traditional gender roles are still embedded. At the same time, the country is supportive of preferred gender recognition and passed the Gender Recognition Act in 2015. While there is a great degree of ethnic and religious homogeneity (80% of the population identifies as Roman Catholic), ethnic and religious minority populations continue to grow.
  • Tolerance for Ambiguity with Preference for Universal Rules: Most Irish are comfortable with less structure and change, and they value creative approaches and risk taking. There are guidelines for how to go about things, but context is always considered. At the office, problems are approached directly and creatively, often in a collaborative spirit. However, final key decisions are usually made by senior executives.
  • Fluid Time: Punctuality is important, but Ireland generally operates on polychronic time. Time can be “stretched” to accommodate for various external factors or to allow space for trust development. There is more flexibility when it comes to personal interactions and building connections.

Fun Facts

  • 40% of Ireland’s 6.6 million population lives in the Greater Dublin Area
  • Major financial services firms and tech companies, including Microsoft, Google, and Meta, have made Dublin their European headquarters
  • Dublin ranks 6th for local friendliness and 13th for ease of settling for expatriates (InterNations 2021)
  • Pub culture is a vital part of Irish life, where literature, music, and dance are celebrated

Be aware!

  • Be sensitive to the distinction between the north and south. The Republic of Ireland is a member of the European Union while Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom.

Communication in Ireland

  • Indirect: The Irish prefer indirect communication. They are masters of wit and may be reluctant to give direct answers. Developing relationships is important to fully understand the context of communications.
  • Emotionally Expressive: Displays of emotion are generally acceptable in Ireland. Communication is emotive and can be exaggerated. Humor is often self-deprecating and is an essential part of most conversations. Persuasion is accomplished through passionate commitment to one’s perspective
  • Informal: In Ireland, casual forms of address are generally preferred. Meetings are more informal, and time is taken to chat and catch up with colleagues. Craic, or “fun,” is essential to the famously friendly, talkative, and funny reputation of the Irish.

                                                                           *Image courtesy of IOR

Want to learn more about an assignee’s day-to-day life in Ireland (or any other country)? Please contact your Aires representative.

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