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Doing business

Business culture

Business tips

Generally speaking Swedes have a lot in common with Australians. They are easy to get along with, first name terms are widely accepted, and they enjoy nature and sports. There are of course differences and the following will assist in developing good relationships.

Business practices:

  • Most business people have tight schedules so it is advisable to seek appointments well in advance of your visit.
  • Punctuality is required both for business and social appointments.
  • First name terms are more common in younger, modern businesses than in traditional circles or at formal occasions, but if you are unsure, leave it to your host to suggest first names.
  • General greetings are by handshake, stating clearly both your first name and surname.
  • It is customary to offer your business card at the commencement of a meeting.
  • Decision-making is frequently by consensus, therefore, on the spot decisions are rare and attempts to force a decision will be counter productive.

Social customs:

  • If invited to a home it is customary to bring flowers or a small gift.
  • If tradition is followed, at the dinner table the host will say a few words of welcome and at the end of the meal it is customary for the guest-of-honour to make a short speech thanking the host for their hospitality.
  • Swedes frequently thank the host of a previous dinner during subsequent contact or by a follow up phone call or written note.
  • At a formal dinner one should not drink from a glass on the table until the host properly welcomes the guests.
  • The Nordic custom of toasting individuals around the table is often practiced and it is good manners to reciprocate, holding eye contact for a suitable period.
  • Eating out is expensive especially in the evening with spirit prices being exorbitant.
  • The annual vacation period occurs from late June to beginning of August and should be avoided, as appointments will be difficult to arrange. This also applies to the Christmas and New Year period.

Links and resources

Government, business and trade

Invest in Sweden Agency –
Sverigedirekt –
Swedish Customs –
Swedish Parliament –
Swedish Trade Council –

News and media

Scandinavia Now –
The Local –

Please note: this list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only.

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Multinational Enterprises should be aware of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises that provide voluntary principles and standards for responsible business behaviour in a variety of areas, consistent with applicable domestic laws. These Guidelines are endorsed and promoted by the Australian Government. For more information, go to the AusNCP website.

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