Norwegian Business Structures

In common with the other Scandinavian business cultures, Norway is extremely non-hierarchical in its approach to business structure.

In accordance with Norway’s famous interpersonal code of Jante Law (first put into words by the famous poet Aksel Sandemose), people in Norway are expected to be egalitarian in their approach to all aspects of life – you shall not think you are special is one of the main tenets of Jante Law. This egalitarian approach obviously lends itself to being comfortable in a more matrix-style organisation.

Thus the emphasis in a Norwegian operation is placed not on the hierarchy of people’s relationships but more on pragmatism and the development of efficient systems which allow people to perform their tasks effectively and with as little interference as possible. Hand in hand with this egalitarian approach goes an openness of communication and freedom of information which many more hierarchical societies would find difficult to accept.

When working with Norwegians, it is best to spend your time trying to find the person who is responsible for a specific task rather than working out what the hierarchy is and working from the top down to the fact holder. It might even be viewed negatively if the fact holder is initially ignored and a senior member of the organisation is approached first.

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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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:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips