As is to be expected in a consensus-oriented culture, meetings can be lengthy and involve lots of open debate.
As everybody has an opinion and, as each person’s opinion is worthy of consideration, meetings can sometimes appear lacking in drive and urgency. In addition to this, all opinions are expected to be backed-up with lots of empirical evidence and this level of detail can add even more to the length of a meeting.
Be aware that punctuality is of central importance in Norway. Lateness is generally not acceptable and it implies a lack of courtesy and respect for the other members present. If you are going to be late for an appointment with a Norwegian, make sure you inform them. It is difficult to over-emphasise the importance of this matter throughout Scandinavia. Agendas are usually produced and when produced would, on the whole, be adhered to.
Agendas bring the necessary structure to a wide ranging, consensus-seeking debate. Without an agenda, the meeting would run the risk of disintegrating into an aimless discussion. On the whole, Norwegians will come well prepared for meetings and expect others to do the same. It will be difficult to get people to buy-in to an idea unless you come to the meeting armed with all the relevant facts and figures.
Meeting participants are expected to speak one at a time and interruptions are viewed as rude and unhelpful. If you wish to make a comment, raise your hand slightly and wait until the current speaker has finished. The chair will indicate when it is your turn to join in. It is not a good idea to arrive unannounced and expect to be able to get a meeting on the spot. Book in meetings well in advance – how else can people come fully prepared?
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
Norway (and Norwegians) like to maintain a sense of independence and separateness. The country’s geographical position probably helps foster this feeling of apartness and the country’s abundance of natural resources has enabled Norway to become relatively self-sufficient as a nation. Thus Norway has avoided full membership of the European Union preferring to arrange its own special relationship with the bloc which allows it to benefit from the benefits of quasi-membership without having to surrender its sovereignty.
Rich in North Sea oil and blessed with renewable energy sources Norway boasts an enviably high standard of living which supports a superb national infrastructure, excellent education and a world-class public health service. Norwegians have every right to be proud of what a country with such a small population has been able to achieve.
All of these factors point towards Norway being an attractive place to do business. However, doing business in Norway is not without its challenges. An understanding of Norwegian attitudes and approaches to business can help you to develop key relationships and build a sustainable business model. Interpersonal relationships in Norway tend to be governed by a code of conduct referred to as Jante Law and it is well worth gaining an insight into the key tenets of this law – it will help explain a lot of the issues you encounter in Norway.
Who is the best person to speak to within a Norwegian organisation? Should you go straight to the top or is it better to find the subject matter expert? What form of communication works best in Norway and what sales approach should you take?
This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Norwegian business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on: