Denmark

ABC

DOING BUSINESS IN DENMARK

As a modern and liberal nation, Denmark is a place where those in business are treated equally. A prosperous nation for business, it is one of the least corrupt in the world, ranked very highly on the World Bank’s scale for ease of doing business and the 2018 Index of Economic Freedom, and one of the most productive economies in the world, despite also having some of the highest tax rates.

Denmark is largely made up of small or medium-sized organisations in ever-growing numbers, having far fewer larger businesses than most major industrial nations in Europe. Smaller towns in Denmark tend to be dominated by medium-sized businesses. The Danes are often specialists, famous for their creativity, innovation and quality in their respective trades, rather than focusing on mass-market products and price competitiveness.

Despite these smaller companies’ reputation for excellence in product and design, the reputation of a smaller business is more fragile than that of a larger one: a significant concern is the possibility of staining its local image with any unpleasant activity (e.g. downsizing the workforce). In Danish industry, community relations are very important.

When doing business in Denmark one will soon realise that it is a strongly egalitarian nation when it comes to commercial culture, with many more women in higher positions than other countries. Danish business is very consensus-oriented with very open communication and lots of teamwork. Managers are not often strict authority figures so much as the first among equals. There is plenty of detailed discussions involved: in meetings, everyone gets to (and is expected to) share their thoughts. Communication is further aided by the fact that Danes normally speak two or three non-native languages; they also tend to use humour to keep things comfortable. However, body language can be limited, which can prove difficult for those who are used to a more expressive culture.

As you can see, doing business in Denmark is quite different from that in other countries. The World Business Culture website can offer many more insights and advice to help you do business with the Danes, including more information on their culture, economy and logistics.

OVERVIEW

Denmark is often cited as the ‘happiest’ country in the world. Whether or not this is true (Danes are also high consumers of anti-depressants), Denmark certainly seems to have a lot going for it. As a small country with a tiny population, the country has been able to develop an enviable level of affluence and great standard of living for most of its people. Danes enjoy good levels of social security, universal healthcare plan and a very generous universal pension for which the quid pro quo are high taxes. It would appear that, for the time being at least, Danes are very satisfied with this balanced approach.

What fuels this level of affluence and contentment? How can a small country deliver such great economic results? The answer must be something to do with the Danish approach to business. Denmark has managed to carve out very specific niches for itself across a range of different sectors and at the same time develop a reputation for very high levels of quality. Danes strive for excellence in delivery and on many occasions, they are able to achieve it.

If you have a product or service which really does deliver in terms of quality, then you should consider doing business in Denmark. However, as with all countries, Denmark has its own way of doing things and if you are looking at doing business in Denmark you are best advised to develop an understanding of the key drivers that underpin the Danish approach to business. Danes are happy to adapt their approach to new markets so maybe you should consider adapting your approach when you go to Denmark.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Danish business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips