Although there are similarities in approach to business between the USA and Canada, there are also enormous differences. Be aware of sensitivities in this area.
Canada is officially a bilingual country and efforts should be made, wherever possible to recognise the linguistic heritage of the French-speaking minority.
Canada has encouraged a multi-ethnic approach to its immigration policies. Cultural diversity is recognised and respected. It is very likely that you will encounter people from a wide range of cultural backgrounds.
Business structures vary enormously – do your homework on the contact organisation before visiting.
Business meetings in Canada tend to be more formal than in the US with a more restrained approach.
People expect the right to be heard and listened to in meetings situations regardless of rank or status.
Detailed preparation prior to meetings is expected and respected – decisions are not usually made until all the facts are to hand.
Communication styles are reserved and understated and there is a suspicion of hyperbole.
Canadians are direct in their communication style and can usually be taken on face value without the need to try to decipher coded messages.
Women visitors should have little or no problems operating within the Canadian business environment.
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: