Vivian O’Brien is junior marketing major currently spending a year abroad at the Copenhagen Business School. In this month’s blog, she shares what she is learning about how business practices vary in other countries.
I have learned a great deal about the small and big differences between business conducted here in Denmark/Europe versus how business operates in the US.
As a part of this month’s article, I decided to interview a business professional here in Copenhagen. David Krogh Christensen is currently a part-time auditor at PwC in a specialized audit team for research and development projects and a full-time graduate student at Copenhagen Business School.
“The general (work) culture is heavily influenced by Danish culture. The tone is extremely informal and friendly, and there is a huge focus on social events,” said Christensen.
From the company presentations in my classes, I have seen that even established Danish companies act as start-ups. They are more community-based and hungry for innovation. Many of these start-up styled companies become case material we analyze in class and eventually used for the final exam at the end of the semester.
There is quite a difference, I have found, in what I have learned about the American corporate culture and what I have learned about Denmark. I am a brother of Delta Sigma Pi, and this organization has taught me about the correct colors of professional dress, the difference between business professional and business casual, etc. In Denmark, however, dress is rather casual because the company’s focus is more on employee well-being, job mobility, and social connection than uniformity and presentation.
From talking with Danish students and noticing the way business is conducted, I have seen that companies emphasize their human capital maintenance as the most important part in being successful. Workdays end at 4 p.m., full-time workers get three weeks off (even if it is their first year), and sick days are partly covered by the government which takes away some of the financial incentive companies might have to push their employees past their limit, according to Mr. Christensen.
Denmark has a very international view of the world. Despite being a small country for businesses to operate within, the people stay connected to the affairs of the world and how the country could be affected by an event that might have happened on the other side of the world. Mr. Christensen told me about a recent business trip to New York City, where he was able to connect with other PwC employees. He talked a great deal about how flexible PwC is in allowing its employees to change departments and even change branches if people want to be relocated somewhere. He met many Danish people in the NYC office who had come to the US in search of a new perspective and who were there on contracts with the possibility to extend if they wished.
Learning about business abroad has shown me the importance of company culture and support in achieving long-term success. I’ve seen that business is a product of the society it operates in, so as I go into the professional world, it will be up to me to decipher what is most important to me. Who knows? I might move to Europe!
My friend and I celebrating St. Lucia’s Day in Sweden, which is a big tradition on December 13.