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Business Culture

Norway - Business Culture

Norway's business culture is quite informal, and follows the egalitarian principles. People are expected to be modest about their own achievements, and to be polite and respectful towards others. There are equal opportunities in the workplace, and many women occupy senior business positions.

It is acceptable to make direct approaches to businesses in Norway, and unnecessary to arrange introductions through a third party. You should make appointments in advance, but try to avoid the main holiday times of July, August, Christmas and Easter. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. Business attire is conservative and smart, with formal suits and times for men, and stylish, modest suits or dresses for women. You should be on time for your appointment, as meetings generally start and finish punctually.

The usual form of business greeting is a firm handshake, with good eye contact and a smile. Business cards are exchanged following initial greetings.

Meetings are usually informal, but structured using an agenda. There is not much small talk, as Norwegians prefer to get down to business quickly. Their communication styles are honest and frank, and they will point out any weaknesses or difficulties, even in relation to their own proposals. They like presentations to be well-structured and factually accurate, with lots of data and charts, but tend to be wary of new ideas or approaches. Since it is considered rude in Norway to interrupt anyone who is speaking, allow time at the end for questions.

Once agreements are made, they are implemented quickly and are regarded as final. Frequent follow-up meetings are not necessary - Norwegians are happy to conduct business via the phone or email, to save time.

Gift giving is not normal practice in the business setting, and may be interpreted as a bribe. It is fairly uncommon to be invited to dine at a Norwegian home since Norwegians like to keep their private and business lives separate. If you are invited home, take a small gift such as flowers or chocolates. If dining with Norwegian business colleagues, you will be expected to join them in the traditional "Skaal!" toast, raising your glass to the host.

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