Denmark Country Profile - Business Etiquette

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Organisational Structure 

The Danes embrace an egalitarian business culture and most companies favour a flat organisational structure with little hierarchy. Equality, social justice and mutual respect at all levels of the workplace is seen as essential. Status is not regarded as important in terms of authority and respect so as to avoid barriers between senior management and lower level employees. Danish people value the sharing of ideas and opinions in business, so it is important to respect this democratic style when doing business in Denmark.

Denmark has one of the strongest economies in the EU and is home to a number of large multinational companies such as Carlsberg, Tuborg, Lego, Arla and Lurpak. The country’s economic success can be attributed to a highly developed infrastructure, efficient and contented workforce and advanced welfare provision.

Management Style

Denmark favours a management style that is based on equality and consensus, typical throughout Scandinavia. Unlike some other Western management structures, where bosses have a ‘paternal’ role in making many decisions unopposed, Danes consider this outmoded and at odds with the desire to create an equal society. Danish managers have an inclusive style, where all team members are involved in decision-making, and creativity and initiative are encouraged.


Business culture is informal and the Danes are easy-going, flexible and patient in negotiations. They also like to use humour in business relationships and feel that everyone is at their ease. However, it is best to avoid being confrontational and maintain a respectful physical distance, as touching and expansive gestures are not the norm in a business setting.


A healthy work-life balance is very important in Danish society, so an attempt to impress the boss by working long hours would be unsuccessful. Family is important to the Danes and most people hurry home after finishing work. Therefore, business negotiations should take place inside working hours and long business lunches between co-workers are rare. Although Danish people have a relatively informal business culture, workers are expected to keep their private lives outside of the workplace. Relationships between co-workers are based on tolerance, cooperation and frankness. Aggressive or dictatorial attitudes would go against the grain of the Danish consensus-model of management.

Dress Code

Business attire is more informal in Denmark compared with other countries. Danish men usually wear smart-casual clothing (such as trousers, shirt and casual jacket) and, barring some professions, ties are not generally necessary. Women wear smart-casual trousers, suits or dresses. Jeans and a smart shirt are also acceptable in some more informal professions. The weather in Denmark can be exceptionally cold in winter so overcoats, hats and gloves are essential on the journey to and from work.


The accepted business greeting in Denmark is a firm handshake, for both men and women. Personal space is important to the Danes so kissing and hugging is reserved for family and friends only.


Danish people take punctuality very seriously and everyone is expected to be on time to meetings and even social events. Although the Danish are hardworking people, they favour an equal work-life balance so every moment at work is used productively and effectively. By being late, you would be seen as holding others up, so try to be on time at all times.


Danish companies have a lot of meetings, which in the spirit of consensus, have a reputation for being long! Meetings tend to follow a pre-determined agenda and are relaxed and informal, although everyone is expected to be on time. All participants in meetings are encouraged to speak and put their opinions across. Managers are expected to control the meeting but this is more to encourage everyone to express their point of view.

If scheduling meetings, do so during lunch times as opposed to outside of normal business hours. It’s also best to avoid scheduling appointments during the months of July or August, as this is the prime holiday period in Denmark.

Cultural Sensitivity

Danish people are open, friendly and tolerant and are highly inclusive of other people’s race, religion and gender. Racist, sexist or discriminatory comments or jokes would be deemed incredibly rude and met with an angry reaction in any setting.

The Danes tend to dislike materialism and displays of individual achievement. You should show appreciation for the Danish love of hospitality and ‘coziness’ (a concept known as ‘hygge’ in Denmark), and be respectful of working hours and family time.

Business Language

Most business is conducted in Danish. However, the majority of Danish people speak a high level of English and German and will switch to these languages easily in the presence of a non-Danish speaker.

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