Finland is very much a country of paradoxes. It is Nordic and yet not Scandinavian (its language is totally unrelated to Swedish, Norwegian or Danish).

Finland is heavily dependent on traditional industries such as pulp and paper but, at the same time, is at the leading edge in many hi-tech sectors. The people of the country are notoriously limited communicators but very proficient in foreign languages. Finns are very proud of their nation’s history and achievements but swift to criticise any perceived national flaws.

These paradoxes are often mirrored in the Finnish approach to business and result in the Finns appearing, in the eyes of many other nationalities, to be an enigma. It can be very difficult to get to know Finnish colleagues well; it can seem impossible to understand the drivers behind their business propositions. It is, therefore, extremely important when doing business in Finland to have a good grasp of the cultural background of the Finns. It is definitely true that in Finland a little knowledge can go a long way.

Finnish history is that of triumph over adversity. Triumph over the climate, triumph over more powerful, wealthier neighbours and more latterly triumphs in many international niche markets. This fortitude makes the Finn a very strong and able business person. Do not underestimate the Finns.

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

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 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