Finland differs from its Scandinavian neighbours in a number of ways. In business, probably the most striking is the lack of dependency on consensus as a means of reaching important decisions.

This is not to say that Finns are massively hierarchical or that they are non-consultative – it is more that Finns like to know exactly the perimeters of their responsibilities and will expect to be allowed to take the decisions which fall naturally within those perimeters.

Thus, Finns will complain just as bitterly (probably even more bitterly) than other nations about the slowness of the Swedish decision-making process. The structures of the organisation are supposed to be defined in such a way that everybody knows what is expected of them and the organisation trusts that employees (who are amongst the best educated in Europe) will have the requisite levels of skill to perform their allotted tasks.

Finland has experienced many years of comparatively calm industrial relations and there is little, if any, antagonism between shop floor and management.

Outside the metropolitan centre of Helsinki (where more than 20% of the total population live), many companies have traditionally taken on an active social role within the community, quite rightly seeing themselves as mainstays of the local area. Therefore, outside Helsinki, employees have been very loyal to employers with little job-hopping taking place.

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

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 Finland. 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 Finland 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