Austria does not have as strong a business entertaining culture as some other, more southern European cultures which reflects the strong separation which is often made between work and private life.
Thus, it is fairly unusual to be taken out for dinner and even rarer to be invited to someone’s home. Most business entertaining is done over lunch — usually at a good restaurant. (Breakfast meetings are extremely rare in Austria.)
During a business meal, it is possible to talk about business, but it might be wisest to delay introducing work related issues until the host raises the matter.
If invited out for a meal, the host will always expect to pay. Similarly, if you invite someone for a business lunch, you will be expected to pick up the bill. In Austria, both the knife and fork are used throughout the meal. Eating with only one hand, with the other hand placed on ones lap under the table, (as is common in North America) is not considered particularly good table etiquette.
Alcohol will usually be offered at lunch and dinner but many Austrians will refrain from drinking at lunch time. It is probably best to take your lead from your host.
It is quite usual to tip in Austria. A tip of around 10% should be given directly to the waiter at the end of a meal.
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: