Although Denmark does not have the same high numbers of large multi-nationals as the Netherlands or Sweden, a high percentage of Danish industry is export-oriented.

As few non-Danes speak good Danish, Danes have therefore had to become proficient in other languages – often speaking two or three to a high level of proficiency. Thus, Danes tend to be good communicators on the international stage.

Danish communication patterns, however, when taken into a second language can be somewhat problematic to cultures more used to a diplomatic approach to communicating in business. Plain speaking is admired and being frank is viewed as a sign of respect to the person you are dealing with. This directness can sometimes be mistaken as rudeness when encountered by cultures which place diplomacy and tact at the forefront of business interactions.

It should not, however, be assumed that because Danes can be direct in their use of language they revel in confrontation. Danes value direct debate (which is very different from confrontation) and will avoid any personal references or overtly confrontational situations.

Danes use humour in most business situations and see the judicious use of humour as a key weapon in the search for hygge which translates as a kind of cosiness in which everybody feels at ease in each other’s company. Feelings of hygge are much prized but poorly explained by Danes and it is an atmosphere which non-Danes find difficult to comprehend.

As with other Scandinavians, body language tends to be quite restricted and this can make interpreting responses and understanding feedback quite difficult. Questions will often come at the end of a presentation but that does not mean that no interest has been generated during the presentation.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Denmark

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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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 Denmark. 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 Denmark 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:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips