Norway Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public Holidays

Introduction

The nature of Norwegian corporate culture corresponds to the standard Nordic model, which is characterized by non-hierarchy, informality, a high representation of women in leadership positions, openness in communication and free flow of information.

Addressing

Due to the non-hierarchical nature of Norwegian society, titles are usually not used in the address, and the partner is generally addressed by their full first and last name upon first contact. During ongoing communication, it is customary to switch relatively quickly to being addressed only by first name. In business relations, communication is usually in English, although the ability to communicate with Norwegian partners in Norwegian is undoubtedly an advantage and a sign that strengthens the credibility of a Czech entity.

Business meeting

The initial meeting is usually arranged by email or phone with sufficient time in advance. Meetings arranged by phone are usually confirmed in writing. It is necessary to arrive on time for the arranged meeting, and in the event of a delay, however insignificant, the Norwegian side expects to be informed. Business meetings can have a different character and their degree of formality usually increases with the importance of the Norwegian partner in the local market. The meeting agenda is often sent in advance so that the partner has the opportunity to prepare for the meeting. In general, from the end of June to about mid-August, the Norwegian company’s work activity is significantly reduced due to the summer holidays, and therefore it is advisable to arrange business meetings outside this period. During the day, most work meetings take place in the morning, extending through lunch and into the early afternoon. Working hours in most workplaces usually end between four and five in the afternoon, overtime is not the norm. Handing over business cards at the beginning or end of the meeting is common and gifts are not expected. Attempting to hand over a valuable gift during a business meeting can be perceived as an attempt to bribe. On the other hand, handing over advertising materials or small items with a company logo is perfectly fine.

  • PaulSourcing: Tips and recommendations for doing business with Norway. Also includes country basic data and information for entering the its market.

The culture of business dealings with Norwegian partners is usually based on long-rooted social values ​​and experienced practice, such as equality, informality, trust in authorities and a low degree of hierarchy. Decisions are often made in groups, which is why several representatives from the Norwegian partner are present at business meetings, all of whom intervene directly in the course of negotiations if they feel the need. Business negotiations can be very short and transparency is emphasized. For the Norwegian partner, it is crucial to establish a relationship based on trust with the foreign entity, and therefore not much haggling is usually expected. On the contrary, it is expected that the foreign entity will be very well prepared for the negotiations, will respond matter-of-factly and in a qualified manner without any signs of stubbornness or commercial aggressiveness.

Norwegians are always well prepared for negotiations and try to be as informed as possible in advance. Their goal is either to reach an agreement quickly or, if they are not interested in the offered product or cooperation, to end the negotiations quickly. Usually, positive references of a foreign entity from its previous or current work in Norway or other Nordic countries, or Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands or Switzerland. The keys to the Norwegian market are above all quality, predictability and reliability, less so price or speed.

The Norwegian standard includes initial reserve, an emphasis on solidity, seriousness, discretion and a sense of honest fulfillment of obligations. Violation of these standards is usually associated with the risk of losing a good name and the possibility of continuing to do business in Norway, as the Norwegian business community is relatively small and informationally connected. In a number of Norwegian companies located in larger cities, members of ethnic minorities or followers of minority religions in Norway also work, but this does not fundamentally affect the way business negotiations are conducted. Nevertheless, a natural openness towards other cultural, religious and ethnic groups is expected from foreign entities seeking cooperation with Norwegian partners.

Characteristic is the effort to save time, but at the same time it is customary to let all its participants speak during the meeting, or at least those who show an interest in it. During meetings in the office premises, alcohol is not served and its consumption is not expected by the Norwegian partners.

On a European scale, Norway is rather one of the vast countries, which, in combination with geography and climatic differences in individual areas, naturally leads to the emergence of regional differences. The sparsely populated areas of northern Norway often appear in contrast to the urban agglomerations concentrated along the southern and western coasts. Nevertheless, the Norwegian authorities are trying to develop the Arctic regions of Norway, and a good example can be the administrative center of the Troms og Finnmark region, the city of Tromsø, which has over 70,000 inhabitants and is home to a university with international prestige. Differences in business dealings are more visible along the city-rural axis than north-south or east-west. Meetings of a more formal nature are associated with urban areas, while the opposite is true for rural areas. A good knowledge of English is widespread throughout Norway,

The clothing of the Norwegian partners will always be made of high-quality materials and appropriate to the local climatic conditions. In the cities, the “business casual” style is very widespread during business meetings, often accompanied by a tie, but this is not a requirement. In the winter months, it is not unusual to change shoes on the spot so that they appropriately complement the clothing for meetings in indoor spaces. In general, muted colors and dull colors are worn in Norway, although always high-quality accessories. In rural or arctic areas, the style of clothing should match the environment in which the meeting will be held. It can also be very informal.

The size and composition of the team can be varied depending on the profile of the Norwegian partner, its market position and the meeting place. Considering the deep-rooted egalitarian tradition in the Norwegian environment, it can be considered an advantage if women and men are equally represented in the negotiation team and each team is given space to express themselves during the negotiations. A professional demeanor and good preparation are expected from the entire negotiation team. The team leader should ideally act as “primus inter pares” during negotiations.

In Norway, the emphasis is on a balance between family and work life, which is manifested in the fact that work activity takes place almost exclusively outside the environment and time designated for family life (non-working time, holidays and weekends). An invitation to a home is usually an expression of personal friendship. It is not usual for business partners for the purposes of business negotiations.

Communication

If a foreign entity is not able to communicate in Norwegian, communication in English (often also Swedish or Danish) is fully accepted during business and often official contact. On the contrary, the inability to communicate directly at least in English can be perceived by the Norwegian partner as a significant deficiency. Visit Aparentingblog for more information about Norway culture and traditions.

Business negotiations tend to be clearly targeted, concise and to the point, and although Norwegian society is generally open to differences and characterized by a high degree of tolerance, it is not expected that during business negotiations with a foreign entity, topics significantly beyond its scope of content will be discussed. The Norwegian partner will usually appreciate if during the negotiations the counterparty highlights his qualities and implicitly demonstrates at least elementary knowledge of the Norwegian environment (e.g. nature, geography, sports or way of life). At the same time, it is appropriate to approach the Norwegian partner with humility and respect, even if it would be less important from a market point of view than the Czech entity.

Communication via email, telephone or video call is common in Norway. With regard to the protection of privacy and free time, it is not entirely easy in Norway to get to the email addresses or phone numbers of specific people from public registers or websites. It is often necessary to request contact information.

Recommendation

Norway is a largely saturated market with a high degree of regulation and a focus on quality and professionalism. When entering the Norwegian market, in most sectors, significant competition from Norwegian and foreign companies, frequent inspections of the offered goods and services by local authorities and high expectations from Norwegian business partners and end clients must be expected. A suitable way to map the conditions on the local market is to participate in one of the Norwegian trade fairs and meet with representatives of the Norwegian business community, either from the environment of regional chambers of commerce or trade-industry associations. In case of interest of Czech entities in establishing cooperation in the field of research and innovation, or even for use in later commercial activities, you can try to get a grant from EEA/Norway funds.

Public Holidays

New Year (January 1), Easter (movable holidays – Easter Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday), Ascension Day (movable holiday – 40 days after Easter), Whit Sunday and Monday (movable holiday – 50 and 51 days respectively after Easter), Labor Day (May 1), Constitution Day (May 17), Christmas (December 25-26).

Usual working hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. or from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In industries where this is possible, many employees work from home on Fridays. In July, the manufacturing plants have three weeks of company national holiday. Usual sales hours in supermarkets are from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (in rural areas) and until 9 p.m. to 12 p.m. (in cities). In other stores on working days from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Thursdays the opening hours are extended until 6 p.m., on Saturdays they close earlier (1 to 4 p.m.). Only a limited number of small grocery stores are allowed to be open on Sundays. Banks are open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Almost everything can be paid for in retail stores with common international payment cards. With regard to the growing trend of electronic payments (whether by payment cards or mobile phones), the number of cash ATMs (minibanks) is gradually decreasing.

Norway Culture of Business