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.
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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.