The drive for egalitarianism is strong in Danish business circles. This leads Danes to be consensus-oriented in many situations
In common with other Scandinavians, Danes seek consensus through detailed discussion and the search for a negotiated agreement.
Denmark has few truly multi-national companies but boasts hundreds of highly respected players in niche-markets.
Danish success has been largely built on high levels of design, creativity and technical excellence.
Employees have, traditionally, tended to stay with one company for much of their careers and job-hopping has been somewhat rare.
Structures tend to be much flatter than in many other countries with wage differentials reflecting this.
Managers are expected to be primus inter pares (or first amongst equals) rather than figures of authority who give direct instructions to subordinates.
Promotion tends to be determined through achievement rather than through relationships or networks.
People are expected to be well prepared for meetings and to be able to argue their own point of view convincingly.
Pre-meeting lobbying could be viewed as mischievous and underhand.
Meetings can be long and are certainly plentiful – due in no large measure to the consensus-seeking process.
Debate is often very direct and this is seen as a positive style of communication. Overly diplomatic or coded-language will be viewed with suspicion
Danes make good team players – so long as they understand and approve of the team rules.
Communication across functional lines tends to be very open and leads to an expectation of being kept constantly in the loop. To be suddenly denied access to information would cause concern.
Levels of foreign language speaking are very high with many people speaking two or three non-native languages.
Humour is an oft-used communication tool in Denmark and is seen as one of the key tools in creating a feeling of hygge (cosiness or snugness).
Body language can be somewhat limited which makes the interpretation of responses difficult for people from more expressive cultures.
A high percentage of women work in Denmark and many more reach the highest levels of organisations than in many other countries.
Danes tend to work contractual hours and make a strong separation between work and private life. This can sometimes be frustrating for people from cultures with a more flexible approach to working hours.
Dress codes tend to be reasonably informal in Denmark although this can vary across industrial sectors.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
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: