Norwegian Business Culture

.. alk business after only a few minutes of small talk. Chit-chat and general conversation do not represent an important part of doing business. Norwegians get to know their counterparts while talking business, whereas in many other cultures visitors must take more time to build rapport. Norwegians do not consider negotiating a time-consuming ritual. Negotiations will be prolonged only if the major facets are unclear or in flux. Since results are the objective, Norwegians will make an effort to have the right people in the picture from the first meeting forward.

Negotiators are expected to process information in the direction of decision-making. Norwegians are known for their high quality products and services and are likewise demanding customers. They are willing to pay for quality. Competition is stiff for sellers entering Norway because of the small size of its market. Norwegians are cautious buyers and take longer to decide where to place an order. Norwegian firms are also ready to switch suppliers to obtain new products or better prices. Avoid the negotiating tactic known as the high-low gambit – starting off with a highly inflated initial offer and then offering price reductions. Business visitors accustomed to doing business in the Middle East, China or Brazil, where this tactic is popular, will be more successful opening with a firm, realistic offer.

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Do not, directly or indirectly, offer anything to a Norwegian that could be taken as a bribe. Norway and its Scandinavian neighbors consistently rank at the top of any list of corruption-free business cultures. Contracts The written agreement is regarded as definitive when subsequent business disagreements arise. Norwegians may react negatively if an international counterpart relies on the strength of the relationship between the two sides to renegotiate terms after the contract has been signed, an approach employed by some East Asian negotiators. At the same time, Norwegians may be irritated by US negotiators who insist on having a lawyer sit with them at the bargaining table. It is better to keep legal advisors in the background until it’s time to finalize the agreement. Schedules and Deadlines Schedules and deadlines are very firm.

Norwegians quickly lose interest in dealing with business partners who fail to meet their obligations on time. Gift Giving Except for Christmas presents and tasteful logo items, Norway is not a gift-giving business culture. However, upon successful completion of negotiations, a bottle of quality cognac or whisky will be welcome. Make sure your gift is wrapped in quality paper. Persuasion An American saying is that a good marketing man sells the sizzle, not the steak.

This philosophy often falls flat in Norway. Norwegian business people tend to be irritated by hard sell tactics. They react better to a well-documented, straightforward approach without hype or exaggerated claims. The concept of new is not as convincing in Norway as in the US, where new is often associated with something better. If you can demonstrate that something is solid and of good quality, then you will have a much better chance. Humor In contrast to some other Northern European cultures such as Germany, humor is quite acceptable during presentations.

Jokes and casual conversation mix well with serious business discussions. But remember that because it is strongly culture-specific, humor often does not translate well. Self-deprecating humor is perhaps the least likely to offend. Business Entertaining Norwegians often invite visitors out for meals. Business entertaining is done at lunch or dinner, rarely over breakfast. Lunch meetings in the office are often casual affairs consisting of open-faced sandwiches.

Consumption of alcohol during lunch is not usual in the office, and light in restaurants. You may invite your local counterpart to a restaurant for lunch or dinner. However, be ready to yield graciously to an invitation from the Norwegian side. The person who invites pays the bill. It is okay to discuss business during lunch. At a business dinner it is polite to wait for the host to bring up business matters.

It is perfectly acceptable for a female business visitor to invite a male counterpart to dinner, and she will normally have no problem paying the bill. A woman alone will also feel comfortable in a restaurant or bar. Meeting after office hours for drinks is unusual in Norway. Social Etiquette It is not uncommon for business visitors to be invited to a local home for dinner. The matter of dress should be settled beforehand, since a formal dinner may involve a black tie or dinner jacket. Usually the suggested attire is informal – sports coat or blazer with tie. Punctuality is important in both business and social appointments. Be on time, although 5-10 minutes late is socially acceptable.

If you are going to be more than 15 minutes late, call. Guests should wait at the door until invited to enter. It is polite to bring flowers, chocolates, or wine. Do not expect to be given a house tour. The areas that are open to you are the areas that are prepared for receiving guests. It is polite to start eating only after the host invites everyone to begin. It is customary to thank your host for the meal.

Guests from some East Asian countries should remember that it is impolite to leave soon after dinner. Expect to leave around 11 pm in winter, and about 12 pm in the summer. Unless your hosts are smokers, do not light up in a Norwegian home or office without asking permission. Toasting Toasting is usual during business and social dinners. Usually the host makes a short speech and proposes the first toast.

Guests look into the eyes of the person being toasted, give a slight nod and say skl (cheers). Before putting your glass down, look into the person’s eyes again and nod. Both women and men may offer toasts. When in doubt watch the other guests. Conversation Norwegians appreciate modesty and a certain degree of humility.

They consider flaunting wealth or success to be in poor taste. Material things do not overly impress them. The same lack of interest applies to name dropping – the mention of influential or famous people you know. Avoid comments that could be taken as boastful or self-promoting. Good topics of conversation include hobbies, politics, travel and sports, especially winter sports such as skiing. Norwegians are proud of their country and their history.

Many Norwegians have very close ties with nature. The visitor should avoid being critical of things, attitudes or organizations. Norwegians tend toward restraint when criticizing their own affairs. Marketing Essays.