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From the highly recommendable book "Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands : How to Do Business in Sixty Countries" by Terri Morrison, Wayne A. Conaway, George A. Borden
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About Denmark


During the Middle Ages, the Viking raiders and conquerors were largely Danes. For a time the Danish realm included most of Scandinavia and England. The Danish kingdom was a major power in northern Europe until the seventeenth century, when it lost a large portion of land to what is now southern Sweden. As punishment for supporting Napoleon, the Congress of Vienna took Norway from Denmark in 1815.

Denmark has existed since around the year 750. The monarchy became constitutional in 1849.

Danish possessions include the Faeroe Islands and Greenland (the world's largest island). Iceland was a former Danish possession, but it declared its independence when Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany in World War II.

Type of Government: The Kingdom of Denmark is today a constitutional monarchy. The symbolic chief of state is the queen or king. The only real power in that position lies in the ability to appoint the prime minister (who is the head of the government) and the cabinet ministers. These officials represent the true power in government. There is one legislative body, the 179-seat Folketing.

Language: Danish is the official language. English is taught after the fifth grade; it is the Predominant second language, and a majority of Danes speak it with a high level

Demographics: The population of Denmark is a little over 5.1 million. The two largest cities are Copenhagen (the capital) and Århus. Almost 99 percent of the Danes live in cities. Denmark continues to have an extremely homogeneous society, but the numbers of Eskimos and Faeroese are growing. Denmark's per capita GDP, at $20,000, is one of the highest in the world, and personal income is evenly distributed.

Cultural Orientation

Cognitive Styles: How Danes Organize and Process Information: The Danes are a proud people who tend to be satisfied with their own accomplishments and thus do not need (and are not open to) information or help from others. Their education is moving away from rote learning and toward the application of abstractive, conceptual thinking. They tend to follow universalistic rules of behavior rather than react to particular situations.

Negotiation Strategies: What Danes Accept as Evidence: Truth is centered in a faith in the ideology of social welfare, with objective facts used to prove a point. Subjective feelings do not play a part in negotiation processes. Value Systems: The Basis for Behavior Denmark is a social welfare state in which the quality of life and environmental issues are given top priority. The following three sections identify the Value Systems in the predominant culture-their methods of dividing right from wrong, good from evil, and so forth.

Locus of Decision Making: Danes have a strong belief in individual decisions within the social welfare system. There is a strong self-orientation, but with an obligation to help those who are not able to help themselves. There is an emphasis on individual initiative and achievement, with one's ability being more important than his or her station in life. The dignity and worth of the individual is emphasized, along with the right to a private life and opinions.

Sources of Anxiety Reduction: Life's uncertainties are accepted, and anxiety is reduced by a strong social welfare system-the government is there to serve the people. Though individualistic, Danes are resigned to a social welfare state in which there is little distinction avail- able through individual accomplishment. Young people are encouraged to mature early and to take risks to develop a strong self-image.

Issues of Equality/Inequality: Denmark basically has a middle-class society, with family needs as the central issue of social policy and governmental intervention. Danes strive to minimize social differences, so there is very little evidence of poverty or wealth, although they exist. Nationalism transcends social differences, and a largely homogeneous population minimizes ethnic differences. In this society, upper-class husbands and wives share the responsibilities of child care.

Business Practices



Business Entertaining

Cultural note:

The Kingdom of Denmark


Local time is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (G.M.T. + 1), or six hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time (E.S.T. + 6).






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