Industry and management in Finland has tended to be dominated by engineers. (Indeed, engineers are held in similar social esteem to those as in countries such as Germany.)

The dominance of engineers in the management corpus has led to a strong technical bent with a reliance being placed on systems and well-organised procedures. Managers place more emphasis on effectiveness and order than on flair and initiative (which are more useful in the design and R&D side of the business.)

Finns respect modesty and ironic self-deprecation. People do not like to show any airs and graces, nor do they like to be on the end of a sales pitch. Therefore managers take a low-key approach to managing others. It is not particularly the manager’s role to motivate the troops through pep-talks or positive feedback sessions. Delegation is more a matter of setting tangible tasks and defining benchmarks against which results can be quantifiably and non-emotionally measured. Once tasks have been delegated, the manager would not expect, or be expected, to closely scrutinise progress.

Within larger companies, major decisions would tend to be made by a team of senior executives in a collective fashion. This process can be slow and painstaking – Finns have a history of conservatism and change happens only after very deep consideration by all involved parties.

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