Background To Business in Switzerland
Switzerland has a reputation for order, decency and an almost obsessive desire for security. The Swiss are, for example, the most heavily insured nation in the world - a fact reflected in the number of insurance and re-insurance businesses based in the country - and have the highest per capita insurance spend. These characteristics permeate every aspect of Swiss life and also percolate down to the business level.
Thus, the Swiss approach to business can be classified as orderly and thoughtful where pre-planning and risk-aversion are to the fore. The type of crisis management apparent in countries such as the UK, where the ability to deal with unexpected events as they occur is highly prized, would be viewed as haphazard and as showing a lack of control.
Although containing a sizeable number of Italian and French speakers', business comes very much before relationships in Switzerland. Respect is earned through the display of professionalism and technical competence rather than through the ability to cultivate the right quality of personal relationships.
Surprisingly, despite the regional differences which are more obvious in Switzerland than in most other countries, there seems to be a surprising degree of homogeneity in approach to business life throughout the country. The obvious exception to this homogeneity is in attitudes to communication, which are very much determined by the native language of the individual.