Norwegian Management Style

Cultures which promote a more egalitarian approach and strive for flat structures, tend to develop very specific characteristics with regard to management approach.

In Norway, bosses are expected to act more as coaches and facilitators than as paternalistic, authoritarian figures. Jante Law also states that ‘you shall not believe you are smarter than others and you shall not behave as if you are better than others’. Thus bosses are expected to act as the first amongst equals and their job is to encourage the best out of all colleagues and ensure an effective allocation of company resources.

Decisions tend to be consensual and one result of this approach is that decisions can be hard to reach and the process can be lengthy. Managers often feel the need to include everybody in the decision-making process and it is seen as important that everybody’s point of view is listened to and valued. For people from a culture where management style is much more directive, this slow, consensual approach can be very frustrating. However, even if this approach is frustrating for you, it is dangerous to ignore it – any attempt at direct imposition of orders without sufficient discussion might be resisted strongly.

One very positive aspect of this egalitarian approach is that information flow within Norwegian organisations is usually very open and all employees therefore feel engaged and valued.

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