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
This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Austria. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.
With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Austria and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.
Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics: