Doing Business in Norway

Business Etiquette norwayFor the globe-trotting international business person doing business in a foreign country offers certain intercultural challenges. Do I shake hands or kiss? What are taboo topics of conversation? What is the best way to negotiate? Understanding a country's business culture, protocol and etiquette is important in achieving success abroad.

This guide to doing business and etiquette in Norway offers some introductory points to some of the above mentioned areas such as business culture and protocol. It is not intended to summarise all 'doing business tips' nor meant to stereotype Norwegians. Rather, it highlights some important key areas for consideration when doing business in Norway such as how to meet and greet, communicate and conduct business meeting

Meeting & Greeting:

Greetings are casual and follow no ritual. A handshake, eye contact and a smile are enough when doing business in Norway. Although Norwegians are relatively informal they will often introduce themselves using their surnames. People move to first names quickly but until that occurs one should address people with "Herr" (Mr.) or "Fru" (Mrs.) plus the surname.

When presenting oneself be sure not to appear too over confident or self-promoting. A cornerstone of Norwegian culture is egalitarianism, embodied in what is called "Jante's Law".  Jante's Law teaches people to be modest and humble. This is seen through most people's refusal to criticise others and an awareness not to flaunt their wealth or financial achievements.


If one were to sum up the Norwegian communication style it would be informal, transactional and direct.

Due to the influence of egalitarianism, Norwegian business culture lacks airs and graces. On the whole people are generally easy going and informal in business dealings and communication. However, informality does not offer anyone a license to act unprofessionally. It is important to always remain polite and respectful when doing business in Norway.

Although business is transactional in nature, there is still the need to build trust and confidence. This is achieved through building rapport but at the same time providing lots on background information on yourself, experience, qualifications and that of your company. Relationships develop slowly.

Norwegians are straight-talkers and not very emotive. They have no difficulty disagreeing with people or speaking their minds within a business context as this is viewed as separately to personal life. Criticisms and the like are more often than not based on facts rather than opinion. They are scrupulous about honesty in communication, often to the point of pointing out the negatives in their own proposals in greater detail than the positives.

Meetings & Negotiating:

Punctuality is imperative when doing business in Norway. If delayed always call ahead to warn people. Business meetings will have a small amount of small talk but quickly get down to the business at hand. Try and mirror the tempo the hosts are working at.
If presenting, ensure you back up arguments or concepts with concrete facts and figures neatly organised in charts. Norwegians are analytical thinkers and this helps them reach conclusions easily. Avoid hype or exaggerated claims in your presentation when in meetings or doing business in Norway.

Business Culture Guides

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