Danish Management Style

Business structures tend to be very flat in Denmark, which fits in neatly to the Scandinavian desire for an egalitarian approach and the need to seek consensus.

A manager will not really want to be seen as a thrusting individual who has single-handedly taken on a difficult decision and gone the difficult mile. In a society that requires people to follow famous Danish dictums such as ‘don’t think that you are somebody’, ‘don’t think that you are wiser than us’ and ‘don’t think that you are better than us’ it is difficult for the manager to play a traditional, paternal role.

Thus, a good manager is somebody who encourages and coaches; who delegates to competent colleagues and who communicates clearly and unambiguously. The manager becomes so through a meritocratic system of reward for ability in a particular field. It is important therefore to be seen as competent and diligent in order to progress. Personal relations are secondary to technically demonstrable competence.

The obvious corollary of these expectations of management are that anybody who approaches Danish colleagues with an autocratic style is likely to be seen as rude and arrogant and is therefore unlikely to be given the necessary levels of support and local assistance.

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Denmark is often cited as the ‘happiest’ country in the world. Whether or not this is true (Danes are also high consumers of anti-depressants), Denmark certainly seems to have a lot going for it. As a small country with a tiny population, the country has been able to develop an enviable level of affluence and great standard of living for most of its people. Danes enjoy good levels of social security, universal healthcare plan and a very generous universal pension for which the quid pro quo are high taxes. It would appear that, for the time being at least, Danes are very satisfied with this balanced approach.

What fuels this level of affluence and contentment? How can a small country deliver such great economic results? The answer must be something to do with the Danish approach to business. Denmark has managed to carve out very specific niches for itself across a range of different sectors and at the same time develop a reputation for very high levels of quality. Danes strive for excellence in delivery and on many occasions, they are able to achieve it.

If you have a product or service which really does deliver in terms of quality, then you should consider doing business in Denmark. However, as with all countries, Denmark has its own way of doing things and if you are looking at doing business in Denmark you are best advised to develop an understanding of the key drivers that underpin the Danish approach to business. Danes are happy to adapt their approach to new markets so maybe you should consider adapting your approach when you go to Denmark.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Danish business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

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