Swedish Management Style

An egalitarian approach, which seeks consensus results, produces a very specific management approach.

The paternalism, which can be found further south in Europe, sits uneasily with the average Swede and direct instructions can be seen as embarrassing for all concerned. Therefore managers are seen more as facilitators or coaches who offer advice and suggestions. Bosses are not, necessarily, expected to know all the answers and it is assumed that the person performing a particular task is the most knowledgeable about that particular task.

One result of this approach is that decisions can be hard to reach and the process tends to be drawn out. It is important that the manager includes everybody in the process and that everybody’s point of view is listened to and ostensibly valued. Many expatriates from countries where quick decision making is highly valued can find this process extremely frustrating. It is dangerous to try to circumvent this process, however, as unilateral decisions are unlikely to be respected or adhered to.

As managers tend towards a consensual approach and openness of discussion, information tends to flow well between departments and functions. There also tends to be less social distance between managers and subordinates. Management denotes a level of work-related responsibility rather than a hierarchical status.

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

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 Sweden. 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 Sweden 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