Global Cultural & Business Etiquette

Global Cultural & Business
MRKT 4160
Daniel Margarit, Prabh Heer, Sukhvir Bains
A research paper on business etiquette in Finland
Basic Cultural Values
Egalitarianism vs. Hierarchical
The Finns have an Egalitarian culture where they tend to see all individuals as equals and do not have a
hierarchical cultural structure.
Information-Orientated vs. Relationship Orientated
The Finns are information-orientated as they do not like to waste time on irrelevant data. It is important to
listen to the speaker and wait for them to finish before replying, interrupting is considered very rude.
They prefer to not attract attention to themselves.
Principle-Driven vs. Results-Driven
Finns are very transactional and do not require long standing relationships in order to conduct business.
They focus mainly on business and do not interact with much small talk. They value their timemanagement skills and prefer to accomplish as much as possible which implies they are result-driven.
Argument Culture vs. Haggling Culture
Finns are a quiet nation in regards to a global scale of boisterousness. Finns do not like to haggle with
suppliers as they prefer to do business quickly and with little back and forth. Therefore, the Finns are
more seen to argue than to haggle.
Finland is considered Nordic rather than Scandinavian. The reason for this is that their language is not of
Germanic origin. Most of the social values in Finland are shared amongst its entire population.
Common Setting
Important business meetings are often followed by a sauna in which conversation is continued on a more
informal basis. Business meals are usually held over lunch at it is normal to discuss business related
manners over the meal. Alcohol is unusual to be taken over lunch.
Ways of Thinking
Individualistic vs. Collectivistic
Finns are known to have individualistic thinking. They do not see the need to have a consensus when
making purchase decisions, but would rather make key decisions on their own. Individuals know their
perimeters, and are expected to make their own decisions if it has to do within their department.
Reductionist Thinking vs. Holistic Thinking
Finns are seen as holistic thinkers. They are known to be very conservative and do not condone change
unless deep thought has been put into the matter. Finns want to know what they are getting into before
they make important decisions. In these cases, a buying team is usually formed to evaluate proposals.
Sequential Thinking vs. Circular Thinking
Finns are seen as being sequential thinkers. They process information in a step by step order. Finns view
overt enthusiasm with suspicion, therefore they tend to look to logic rather than emotion when coming to
a decision.
Time of Year to Visit
Many Finns take vacation between June and August, therefore it is best to try and conduct business
outside those months.
Gifting Practice
Gifts are not normally exchanged while doing business in Finland. However, small gifts are sometimes
given after negotiations have been completed such as: cognac, art, or liquor. If business involves going to
a Finn’s home, individuals must always bring a gift such as flowers, chocolates, or wine.
Entertainment Practice
If an individual invites someone out to dinner, they are then responsible to pay the bill in full as checks
are never split. Business is often conducted up to two hours after dinner is eaten, never leave until
cognac/dessert/coffee is finished.
Implication of alcohol
The Finns accept alcohol in the form of a gift and the price is very high to purchase in Finland so it makes
for an ideal gift.
Ethical standards are not actively enforced when doing business with the Finns. Most new companies
have adopted some form of ethical standards, however the industry as a whole has trouble defining what
their definition of ethics and corporate responsibility is.
Approach for negotiation
When conducting negotiations it is important to let individuals have their time to speak and get their
message across. The nature of the negotiation is to inform individuals about goods/services and not try to
persuade them to buy. Finns do not participate in small talk they jump right into business. The managing
director makes the final business decision.
Two to three minutes of silence are common while conducting business. It is rude to interrupt or say
anything during this time. Business discussions may be held in a sauna, or a business lunch may be
preceded or followed by a sauna. Many Finns sauna naked and therefore it is not strange to sauna naked.
Do’s and Don’ts
The following expectations are relevant when considering Finland’s business and cultural values.
Be on time for meetings
o Meeting should be booked in
advance, in writing
Take time to understand their position and
do not try to “hard sell” them
Use meetings as a form of information
Shake woman’s hands first
o Firm grip is the standard when
shaking hands
o Smile when you give a handshake
Address people by their surname
Never interrupt when an individual is
Overdress to show wealth, being
ostentatious is frowned upon
Avoid showing emotion
Avoiding being informal
Never hug, kiss, or touch a Finn’s body
part without permission
Non-Task Sounding
Meeting Process
They tend to use humour while conducting business but the structure is ordered and people speak one at a
time, the jokes are usually targeted toward themselves rather than others.. Their meetings are always
started and ended on time as per the appointment. To others, Finnish meetings can be unusual; they are
often long and quiet in process.
Informal vs. Formal
Business meetings with Finns are formal and focus on business. Meetings are well structured and follow
an agenda distributed well ahead of time. When a member of the meeting would like to speak, they must
often must seek the permission of the meeting Chair.
Cold-Calls vs. Intermediaries
Finns prefer to target their customers, find the right contacts, and make an appointment. It is difficult to
get a response or even arrange meetings through cold calling because they don’t like to be on the end of a
sales pitch.
Information Exchange
Full Authority vs. Limited Authority
In business meetings, Finns do not demand full authority, they rather make judgements and decisions
based on facts and knowledge of the other party.
Direct vs. Indirect
It is known that the Finns are direct because they tend to speak based on fact and will essentially tell you
what they are thinking. Even though they are known for their humour, they will always conduct business
in a professional direct manner.
Proposal First vs. Explanation and Negotiation First
The business culture in Finland is very to the point. Meetings are often long and Finns will sit through a
presentation without speaking until it is finished. They tend to prefer hearing the proposal first.
Means of Persuasion
Aggressive vs. Questioning
Finns are aggressive when looking to make a deal. They are focused on the transaction rather than a
personal relationship with the buyer when they are conducting business. They practice a formal business
style preferring people to keep the conversation focused completely towards business.
Impatient vs. Enduring
The Finns are known to be very impatient when it comes to the decision making process. Due to their
individualistic purchasing structure, Finns complain about the slowness of other cultures (i.e. Sweden).
Limited Feedback vs. Reasonable Feedback
Feedback from the Finns is limited. During a meeting one is not expected to speak unless his or her
statement is concrete and well supported. The quality of their feedback is more significant than the
Terms of Agreement
The Finns will analyse and weigh a proposal for a period of time, but when they have chosen a contract a
strong and loyal relationship will be made.
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Business Culture: