DOING BUSINESS IN AUSTRIA
Having only been a state in its current form since 1955, Austria has prospered into a society with a highly developed infrastructure, an affluent standard of living, and a driven and accomplished workforce – excelling especially in the fields of banking, finance, biotechnology and precision engineering. It may only have a population of eight million and be short of its own natural resources but over 1,000 multinational companies coordinate their operations from an Austrian location. A resilient economy, a strong manufacturing base, transparent legal system and an ingrained willingness to embrace global trade and investment make doing business in Austria a worthwhile goal to adopt.
However, while the aim of doing business in Austria may seem like an attractive one, setting up a business can be a slow and complex process. Time will need to be taken to ensure a business is established by following the appropriate regulations. The economy should also be considered when doing business in Austria. Economic restructuring measures have failed to keep pace with neighbouring Germany with public debt remaining high. A contributing factor is the stress of an ageing population on public finances.
To successfully do business in Austria it is paramount that time is dedicated to understanding the culture of Austrian business society. Great value is placed on academic acumen, punctuality and pre-planning before meetings. It is advisable to work with Austrian subsidiary companies in a spirit of co-operation and co-determination to honour the proud Austrian concept of social partnership or Sozialpartnerschaft. It is also important to note that it is customary for Austrians to refer to even close colleagues by their surname and that Austrians appreciate a literal use of language so avoid ambiguity.
As you can see, a high score on The World Bank’s scale for ease of doing business does not mean that doing business in Austria is without its complications. Many make the mistake of assuming Austrians are like Germans, when in fact they are extremely proud of their own unique culture, steeped in history. The World Business Culture website offers useful advice and knowledge on how to avoid such misconceptions whilst bringing you up to speed on the Austrian economy and business logics to pave the way for your commercial success in Austria.
Although Austria is a landlocked country, its geographic position brings certain advantages as it is perfectly positioned between the countries of western Europe and the former Soviet satellite countries to the East. Thus, Austria is able to command centre stage in central Europe and is often seen as the bridge between the two areas.
Austria is also a very successful exporting nation with strong links to, not only its largest trading partner Germany, but also into the Middle East and Asia. Austria is at the same time traditional and outward looking. The country realises that it must trade internationally if it is to be able to continue to compete globally and maintain its current high standard of living.
All of this points to the fact that doing business in Austria could very well be a good idea for your business. If you are not currently doing business in Austria, we would recommend that you take a serious look at the market – you might be surprised by the opportunities you uncover and you might even start to see a commercial opening into some Eastern European neighbours.
If you do decide to do business in Austria make sure you take a little time out in advance to study the business culture you are likely to meet when you arrive. All countries develop their own unique approach to the way in which business is conducted and Austria is no exception. Austria is quite traditional and formal and you would do well to understand how these formalities play out in day-to-day business activities.
This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Austrian business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:
- Background to business
- Business Structures
- Management style
- Women in business
- Top tips