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Knowledge of the foreign culture - Key to success

You can find the presentations at the end of this article.

Norwegian-Finnish Trade Association together with Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences organized an event on “Understanding business culture: Keys to Success”. Speakers of the event were the Ambassador of Norway to Finland H.E. Mr Jørg Willy Bronebakk, Mr Johannes Sangnes, CEO of R-Kioski and Mr August Kleven, CEO of zentuvo Finland.

The survey made on aspects of culture, communication and barriers in organizations and business relations between Norway and Finland made by Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences was published at the event.

The survey revealed the similarities and differences between Finns and Norwegians. The similarities between Finns and Norwegians according to the survey are that they are both task oriented and direct. By acknowledging these similarities the cooperation can be easier.

Other key findings of this survey are that there is a clear difference in leadership and communication styles in these two countries. One of the differences is that the Finnish leadership style is more autocratic than the Norwegian one. The Norwegian leadership style is thus more informal than the Finnish one. Then again Finns see Norwegian leadership style as a more democratic. When it comes to communication style the Finns are seen as direct and honest. According to the survey the Norwegians are more relation-focused than the Finns.

Main trade barriers between Finland and Norway according to the survey are language, business culture and national protectionism. Especially Norwegian companies see language as a great barrier when they conduct business with Finnish people.

The survey highlights concrete ideas how to enhance the cooperation between Finland and Norway. The recommendation for businesses based on this survey is to increase awareness of the other culture. This way companies are able to handle better the situations which they face. Also the survey respondents think that it is a great asset to have a local representative when expanding to another country.

The speakers also shared their viewpoints on how to do business successfully in a foreign country. Mr Sangnes admitted that it was at first challenging to do business in Finland. It is important to educate people and learn about the foreign culture. Businesses should remember that managing teams differ from country to country.

Mr Kleven emphasized that it is important to make good market research and to have clear and strong concept and strategy for entering a foreign country. In addition he said that when entering to a new country connections and networking are crucial.

All in all Norway represent a great trade potential for Finnish businesses. With surveys like these it is possible to enhance the cooperation of these two countries. These surveys help especially by creating more knowledge and understanding of the foreign culture.


TEXT: Karima Jemaiel
International Affairs, Finland Chamber of Commerce // 20.5.2015

This article is posted with permission from Finncham: