Successful Entertaining in Sweden

Most business entertaining takes place over lunch or dinner. (Breakfast meetings are fairly unusual.) In fact, there is quite a tradition of business entertaining in Sweden and people will enjoy being invited out to a good restaurant.

Meals are taken relatively early in Sweden with lunch being taken between 12:00 — 13:00 and dinner as early as 18:00 — 19:00.

Swedish food is often described as being quite heavy and it is true that there are many dishes with meat and potatoes. There are, however, a great many lighter dishes available — especially fish dishes – and the menus in good restaurants are usually excellent and varied.

Most business people do not drink alcohol with lunch but are much more likely to have an alcoholic drink with dinner (unless they are driving — the drink-driving laws are very stringently enforced.) Beer and wine would be the most common drinks taken with dinner. Drinking is often accompanied with the traditional Swedish toast of skåoal.

It is usually possible to discuss business issues over lunch or dinner — although it would be unusual to make any firm decisions or go into things in too much depth on these occasions.

It is not really necessary to tip in restaurants in egalitarian Sweden but many people will round up the bill to the nearest round figure. You do, however, very often have to pay to hang your coat in the cloakroom.

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

Free Download


Sweden is an open, diversified and competitive economy which has always looked to international trade as an outlet for its products and services. Over the past few decades Sweden has increasingly focused on the development of high-tech products and services and on the green economy which has helped put a relatively small country right at the vanguard of global development.
In addition, Swedish demographics have been helped by the influx of large number of immigrants from around the world who have added both numbers and skills to the highly educated native Swedish population. All of this adds up to a country which represents a host of opportunities to companies and individuals who have the right products or services – ones which will appeal to a very discerning mark place.

Doing business in Sweden is relatively simple and unencumbered with much of the bureaucracy and red tape often found in other countries. However, Sweden is a high-cost economy and you can lose a lot of money quickly if you don’t get your strategy and planning right from the outset. Part of your planning should be to do some homework on Swedish business culture – like all other countries Sweden has its own unique approach to doing things in a business context and you really need to understand these nuances if you hope to make the right impression.

Sweden is one of the most egalitarian business cultures in the world and people from a more hierarchical culture can often find it difficult to understand how this impacts on business operations. For example, going straight to the top might not be the right approach in a country where power and information are shared openly throughout an organisation and showing less respect to one person than another based on job title will definitely be frowned upon.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Swedish 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