Due to certain historical and cultural influences, Austrian companies tend towards a hierarchical approach to corporate structure.
Try to find the organisation chart of the company you are dealing with – it usually gives a close reflection of the way in which the company is actually organised.
Social partnership has, for a long time, been a central tenet of the Austrian approach to business. Co-operation and co-determination in industrial matters are of paramount importance.
Managers tend to be instructional and are expected to give direct instructions to subordinates.
In a country which tends towards the development of specialists, managers are usually sector-area experts. They know what they are talking about.
Charm and warmth are much prized characteristics and managers will strive to achieve a cosy relationship with colleagues.
People are expected to be very well prepared for meetings – do not arrive without having thought through the detail of the meeting in some depth.
If brainstorming meetings are to be held, it is best to make sure everybody knows exactly what is expected within the meeting and what the goals of the meeting are.
Punctuality is prized. Do not be late as this could be viewed as unprofessional behaviour.
A certain amount of small talk can be expected at the start of a meeting.
Do not assume that Austrians are exactly like Germans. Austria is a country with a great sense of history and a unique culture.
Meetings will be run in a methodical fashion with the agenda, by and large, adhered to. Try to avoid deviating from the set agenda unless it is absolutely unavoidable.
Meetings may be arranged early in the morning as Austrians tend to start at 8:00 am
In a meeting situation, avoid speaking for the sake of speaking. Speak only when you have something relevant to say about a topic which you are knowledgeable upon.
Cross-departmental teams can be difficult to manage as they cut across the normal hierarchical loyalties and lines.
Surnames are usually used in business circles as are academic and professional titles.
Try to be as direct and literal in your use of language as possible. Avoid the use of coded language which can be confusing.
Although women play a less significant role at senior management level than in some other countries, visiting female managers should have few problems and will be treated with professional courtesy and respect.
Dress code still tends towards the formal and it is best to wear conservative, business-formal attire this applies to both men and women.
Most business entertaining will be done at local restaurants. It is unusual to be invited to the home of a business colleague for 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: