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
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: