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Business Culture of Northern Europe Report (Assessment)

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Updated: Jul 7th, 2021


There is no doubt that intercultural differences shape people’s attitudes to almost every aspect of life, including business activities. Understanding the details of culture-based business values remains critical for intercultural collaboration. This post discusses business values in Northern European countries and related stereotypes.

Northern Europe is often listed among the wealthiest regions in the world, and the factor of economic prosperity significantly impacts the popularity of different views on business. The countries of the region do not belong to the most densely populated places in the world, which contributes to the prevalence of individualistic values (Wu & Zheng, 2016). For instance, in contrast to Japanese workers, employees in Northern Europe prefer keeping their office doors closed to avoid distractions at work (Gannon & Pillai, 2016). The business culture of Nordic countries possesses a variety of unique characteristics, including positive perceptions of flat organizational structures, in which employees are supervised directly, and decreased gender-based barriers to career progression (Wu & Zheng, 2016). Apart from that, business people in Northern European countries are believed to prefer leadership styles that require leaders to consult with subordinates before making any significant decisions (Chan & Du-Babcock, 2019). Therefore, despite differences between particular countries, the Northern European style of business leadership involves strong links between different levels of power.

Main body

Many researchers tend to associate the success of financial development with the principles of leadership and business priorities. Thus, the fact that all Northern European countries have relatively low power distance and gender inequality indexes is related to Nordic companies’ “outstanding risk management capability” and makes the Nordic approach to business a model to emulate (Wu & Zheng, 2016, p. 280). Businesspeople in the region are believed to prefer egalitarianism over stiff hierarchies, and some authors associate it with many factors, including their departure from Catholicism in the past (Meyer, 2015). According to Meyer (2015), in contrast to Protestantism popular in Northern Europe, Catholicism presents a kind of a hierarchy, in which believers are supposed to speak to God through the ministers of religion, and it can have implications for people’s preferred leadership styles.

Sometimes, however, the mentioned values associated with partnership relations with people from Northern Europe are regarded as stereotypical. For instance, analyzing the intercultural business events, Chan and Du-Babcock (2019) conclude that in teams consisting of Finnish and Swedish employees, the use of autocratic leadership style can also be considered an acceptable option helping to maintain order. The existing stereotypes related to cultural differences sometimes cause unrealistic expectations that impact the success of intercultural communication and business partnerships (Ladegaard & Jenks, 2015). Therefore, knowledge about business values in Northern Europe predetermined by culture should be used smartly.


To sum up, the features of business culture in Northern Europe include honesty, equity, and non-oppressive leadership. The key benefits of the Nordic vision contributing to these countries’ development are its consensus-oriented nature and people’s unwillingness to engage in unequal relationships. However, authoritarian approaches to leading others can also be used in Nordic countries for the maintenance of order.


Chan, A. C. K., & Du-Babcock, B. (2019). Leadership in action: An analysis of leadership behaviour in intercultural business meetings. Language and Intercultural Communication, 19(2), 201-216. Web.

Gannon, G. M., & Pillai, R. K. (2016). Understanding global cultures: Metaphorical journeys through 34 nations, clusters of nations, continents, and diversity (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Ladegaard, H. J., & Jenks, C. J. (2015). Language and intercultural communication in the workplace: Critical approaches to theory and practice. Language and Intercultural Communication, 15(1), 1-12.

Meyer, E. (2015) Business Insider. Web.

Wu, S., & Zheng, X. (2016). An exploratory study of enterprise risk management in Northern Europe. Journal of Applied Management and Investments, 5(4), 280-289

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IvyPanda. "Business Culture of Northern Europe." July 7, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/business-culture-of-northern-europe/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Business Culture of Northern Europe." July 7, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/business-culture-of-northern-europe/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Business Culture of Northern Europe'. 7 July.

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