Norwegian Business Culture

Credit: Vivian Ramfjord

Norway is a safe and easy country for business. The business culture values flat hierarchies, trust, and worker independence and empowerment. Consequentially, Norwegian workers rank as some of the most productive in the world. The World Bank also consistently ranks Norway in the top 10 of the 189 countries on the Ease of doing Business ranking.

Our population of 5,3 million may be modest in size, but its purchasing power is comparable to larger economies, due to a high standard of living and evenly distributed wealth. Most Norwegians are fluent English speakers with French and German frequently spoken as well.

There is a highly developed system of industrial clusters with close cooperation between the industry and R & D institutions. The cost of setting up R & D activities is internationally competitive with a well-developed system to protect intellectual property rights. Norway participates fully in all EU research programmes and activities.

The Norwegian business culture is based on Norwegian (Scandinavian) work values. One of the main values is the focus on equality. As a result, you will see little hierarchy, flat structures and an informal communication.

The level of trust is high in the society, between the authorities and the citizens, employers and employees as well as between business partners. This means that business can be efficient without building too many formal structures.

Cooperation is highly valued. “The Norwegian model” is based on close cooperation between the Government, the Employer Federations and the Employee organizations – the so-called tripartate model. At company level, the cooperation between employer and employee and between manager and subordinate is vital.

Empowerment is a bi-product of trust; workers are trusted and therefore also expected to take responsibility and initiative. As a result, Norwegian workforce is seen as productive, competent and motivated.

To summarize some key elements of the Norwegian business culture:

  1. Flat structures and little hierarchy
  2. Quick and informal communication
  3. Focus on cooperation
  4. Trust among people
  5. Empowered employees
  6. Balance between work and private life
  7. Gender equality
  8. Risk willingness

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