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.
This country-specific business culture profile was written by Keith Warburton who is the founder of the cultural awareness training consultancy Global Business Culture.
Global Business culture is a leading training provider in the fields of cross-cultural communication and global virtual team working. We provide training to global corporations in live classroom-based formats, through webinars and also through our cultural awareness digital learning hub, Global Business Compass.
This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Sweden only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.
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