It is difficult to give a clear indication of any type of Canadian norm in terms of business structures as many Canadian companies have abandoned traditional hierarchical approaches in favour of leaner, flatter structures. This business re-engineering process has been proceeding for some time but different companies and different sectors are at different stages of the cycle. Thus, although it is possible to encounter companies which have maintained a very structured, hierarchical approach, a business visitor is just as likely to encounter a very flat, open system.
It is, therefore, important to do as much homework as possible on any potential clients or suppliers before initial contacts are made. As a general rule, the more remote from major centres of population, the more likely a company is to be traditionally hierarchical.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
There are innumerable reasons why you should probably be doing business in Canada and they are not all related to the fact that it borders the world’s largest economy – although in itself this is quite a compelling argument.
Canada boasts an enviable combination of strong basic macro-economic fundamentals, an abundance of key natural resources, top-quality human resources and an extremely pro-business climate – all of which make the country a ‘must-explore’ market. In addition, Canada has developed one of the world’s great transportation networks and attracts some of the globe’s top talent to live and work there.
So, if you aren’t already doing business in Canada, you should probably be asking yourself ‘why not?’
However, like all countries Canada has a unique business culture and you are well advised to do some research on this before starting to develop any business ideas. One thing you really need to be clear about is that Canada is not the USA. Just because you have worked successfully with Canada’s southern neighbour does not mean you understand how business is done in Canada. Geographic and linguistic proximity rarely equate to cultural similarity and this is definitely the case with regard to the USA and Canada.
Even such basic things as approach to communication differ considerably between the USA and Canada as do approaches to meetings and decision-making. Canada is basically an egalitarian society and a pushy, abrasive attitude tends to go down quite badly with people who are taught never to speak positively about themselves.
Canada is also proudly multi-cultural – people are not thrown into a melting pot and expected to leave their cultural identity behind. Diversity is encouraged and you need to recognise that Canada is not a homogenous entity. Do some research in advance because the rewards of doing business in Canada can be significant.
This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Canadian business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on: