Meetings are formal affairs and people would be expected to arrive well-prepared.
Austrians would be classified as pre-planners in terms of their approach to meetings. It would be unprofessional to arrive at a meeting and to start looking through the papers as the meeting is beginning. Brainstorming type meetings might occur but it would be obvious to all concerned that the meeting was not for decision-making or information exchange in advance and everybody would prepare accordingly.
Great emphasis is placed on punctuality and everybody is expected to arrive on time. It is considered to be extremely inefficient to arrive late and can be classified a stealing peoples time. On the whole, meetings will run to schedule and finish on time. (Meetings may be scheduled quite early as the typical working day runs from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm in Austria)
It is usual for the senior person present to control the meeting and agendas tend to be followed assiduously. The meeting leader will invite people to speak and it is not expected that people will be interrupted or that strong emotions are shown. Actions will be agreed, written down, distributed and acted upon.
In a culture which places great emphasis on specialisation, people are expected to speak when they have something to say within their area of expertise. Do not feel the need to speak if you have nothing relevant to say.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
Although Austria is a landlocked country, its geographic position brings certain advantages as it is perfectly positioned between the countries of western Europe and the former Soviet satellite countries to the East. Thus, Austria is able to command centre stage in central Europe and is often seen as the bridge between the two areas.
Austria is also a very successful exporting nation with strong links to, not only its largest trading partner Germany, but also into the Middle East and Asia. Austria is at the same time traditional and outward looking. The country realises that it must trade internationally if it is to be able to continue to compete globally and maintain its current high standard of living.
All of this points to the fact that doing business in Austria could very well be a good idea for your business. If you are not currently doing business in Austria, we would recommend that you take a serious look at the market – you might be surprised by the opportunities you uncover and you might even start to see a commercial opening into some Eastern European neighbours.
If you do decide to do business in Austria make sure you take a little time out in advance to study the business culture you are likely to meet when you arrive. All countries develop their own unique approach to the way in which business is conducted and Austria is no exception. Austria is quite traditional and formal and you would do well to understand how these formalities play out in day-to-day business activities.
This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Austrian business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on: