Business Culture

Norsk Hydro. Photo: Norsk Hydro ASA (Hydroaardal)

The Norwegian business culture is based on Norwegian (Scandinavian) work values. One of the main values is the focus on equality. As a result, you will see little hierarchy, flat structures and an informal communication.

Norwegians are less impressed by titles and symbols of power than in other countries. In general, there are small differences in society and in the work place.

The level of trust is high in the society. This trust regards the authrorities and the citizens, employers and employed and also between business partners. This means that business also can be efficient without building to much structures.

Cooperation is highly valued. A basis for the “Norwegian model” is the cooperation between the Government, the Employer Federations and the Employee organisations. At company level, the cooperation between employer and employee and between manager and subordinate is vital.

Empowerment should also be mentioned. Working in Norway means that you have to take responsibility and initiative. Both the society and the work place is based on trust. Given trust, the Norwegian workforce is seen as productive, competent and motivated.

Finally, as a manager, you must be aware of the cultural characteristics.You are not expected to give orders, but more act as a coach or facilitator. Remember to involve people in decisions and see yourself as the first among equals. You should further see the flat structure and the openness as a tool to achieve results and not a threat.

To summarize some key elements of the Norwegian business culture:

1. Flat structures and little hierarchy
2. Quick and informal communication
3. Focus on cooperation
4. Trust among people
5. Empowered employees
6. Balance of work-and private life
7. Gender equality
8. Risk willingness

What do other say about it?

Here are some examples on how others describe the Norwegian business culture:

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