Norwegian Managers’ Intercultural Competence
As a small country with international ambitions, Norway has a long tradition of sending managers abroad to meet potential new partners, and, of course, receiving the latter in Norway on return visits. Are Norwegian managers as competent in cross-cultural communication as generally believed? Is fluent English a sufficient prerequisite for interacting effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds?
Norwegians rank at the top globally in two specific cultural traits: egalitarianism and social trust. These two traits strongly influence the way Norwegians tend to communicate, especially regarding degree of formality, verbal directness, and willingness to express opinions. Not surprisingly, these traits clearly affect other people’s perception of Norwegian managers, both regarding their politeness (or lack of it) and social competence. Highly egalitarian and relatively trusting in a generally hierarchical and low-trust world, Norwegians tend to be misunderstood from time to time when interacting with international counterparts.