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?
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This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Norway only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.