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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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