Swedish business culture guide - learn about Sweden
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Swedish business culture guide - learn about Sweden

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http://businessculture.org - Find out about business culture in Sweden. This guide is part of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project which examined European Business culture in 31 countries looking at ...

http://businessculture.org - Find out about business culture in Sweden. This guide is part of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project which examined European Business culture in 31 countries looking at business communication, business etiquette, business meeting etiquette, internship and student placements, cost of living, work-life-balance and social media guide.

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Swedish business culture guide - learn about Sweden Swedish business culture guide - learn about Sweden Document Transcript

  •            |  1     businessculture.org Business Culture in Sweden   http://businessculture.org/northerneurope/sweden/ Last updated: 6.10.2013 businessculture.org   This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This Content  Sweden   publication reflects the view only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
  •            |  2     TABLE  OF  CONTENTS   Business  Culture  in  Sweden  ......................................................................................................  4   Xenophobia: being a foreigner in Sweden ........................................................................................... 5   International business in Sweden ......................................................................................................... 5   General Education ............................................................................................................................... 6   Educational standards .......................................................................................................................... 6   Other Issues .......................................................................................................................................... 6   Cultural taboos ..................................................................................................................................... 6   Business  Communication  ..........................................................................................................  8   Face-to-face communication ................................................................................................................ 8   Language Matters................................................................................................................................. 9   Business Relationships ........................................................................................................................ 10   Making contact ................................................................................................................................... 10   Personal Titles .................................................................................................................................... 10   Business  Etiquette  ..................................................................................................................  11   Corporate Social Responsibility ......................................................................................................... 11   Punctuality .......................................................................................................................................... 11   Gift giving ........................................................................................................................................... 11   Business Dress Code ........................................................................................................................... 11   Bribery and corruption ....................................................................................................................... 12   Business  Meeting  Etiquette  ....................................................................................................  13   Importance of Business Meeting ........................................................................................................ 13   Business Meeting planning ................................................................................................................. 13   Negotiation process ............................................................................................................................ 14   Meeting protocol ................................................................................................................................ 14   How to Run a Business Meeting ........................................................................................................ 14   Follow up letter after meeting with client ........................................................................................... 15   Business meals .................................................................................................................................... 15   businessculture.org   Content  Sweden  
  •            |  3     Business Meeting tips.......................................................................................................................... 16   Internship  and  placement  .......................................................................................................  17   Work experience................................................................................................................................. 17   Internship and Placement advice ....................................................................................................... 17   Social security and European health insurance ................................................................................. 18   Safety .................................................................................................................................................. 18   Do I need a visa? ................................................................................................................................ 18   Internship and placement salary ........................................................................................................ 19   Internship and placement accommodation ........................................................................................ 19   Cost  of  Living  ...........................................................................................................................  20   Money and Banking ........................................................................................................................... 20   Traveling costs .................................................................................................................................... 20   Work-­‐life  Balance   ....................................................................................................................  21   National holidays ................................................................................................................................ 21   Working hours .................................................................................................................................... 21   Health insurance ................................................................................................................................ 21   Social  Media  Guide  .................................................................................................................  23   Social Media Guide for Sweden ......................................................................................................... 23   Search and Social Media Marketing for International Business ........................................................ 23   businessculture.org   Content  Sweden  
  •            |  4     Business  Culture  in  Sweden   Did you know about business culture in Sweden? Watch this video animation to find out some interesting facts. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_pLVridwbg) Sweden is located in Northern Europe on the Scandinavian Peninsula bordering Norway and Finland. It is the third largest country in Western Europe covering 450,000 sq km of which 53% is forests and 9% is lakes and rivers. The total population of Sweden is about 9.5 million, one fifth of whom are immigrants or have at least one foreign-born parent. The largest immigrant groups are from Finland, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Norway, Denmark, and Poland. Sweden’s capital city is Stockholm. Sweden’s official language is Swedish, which is a Germanic language related to Danish and Norwegian. Five minority languages are Finnish, Meänkieli, Sami, Romani and Yiddish but English is by far the leading foreign language. In 1995, Sweden joined the European Union but in a 2003 consultative referendum, Swedish citizens declined to adopt the Euro and the currency of Sweden remains the Swedish Krona (SEK). The official head of the country is the king but the duties of the Swedish monarch as head of state are today purely representative and ceremonial and the country is governed by a popularly elected parliament and government. Sweden’s economy is highly developed and the country has a high standard of living. The major economic resources are from fisheries, wood, high-grade ore mining, hydroelectric power, and also a strong tourism industry. The most important export goods are electrical and telecom equipment, machinery, crude oil, passenger cars, paper, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, textile products, footwear, iron and steel. businessculture.org   Content  Sweden  
  •            |  5     Sweden has one of the world’s highest life expectancies and one of the lowest birth rates. There is an extensive social welfare system, which provides for childcare and maternity and paternity leave, old-age pensions, and sick leave, among other benefits and there is a ceiling on health care costs. These services are paid for by taxation, which is thought to be one of the highest in the world. In terms of income, the wealth distribution in Sweden is one of the world’s most equal ones. Sweden’s climate is not as extreme as one might think considering the country’s northern location. This is due to its proximity to the Gulf Stream and Norway’s mountains. However, as Sweden’s extreme length is over 1500 kilometers, there is a relatively drastic difference in the climate and the amount of daylight between the northern and southern parts of the country. The Swedish capital Stockholm’s average temperatures range from 17°C in July to 3°C in January. In the northern parts, for example Kiruna, the corresponding temperatures are 13°C in July and a freezing -16°C in January. Stockholm again enjoys 17 hours of daylight in July and 7 hours in January whereas in Kiruna, the sun does not go down at all in July and does not come up at all in January. When it comes to time zones, Sweden is in the Central European Time zone, which means that the time in Sweden in the summer is GMT+2 and in the winter GMT+1. Xenophobia:  being  a  foreigner  in  Sweden   Sweden has become a multicultural and cosmopolitan nation over the last few decades. Today about one fifth of Sweden’s population are immigrants or have at least one foreign-born parent. There are almost 200 native tongues among the Swedish population. In general, since the Swedes are used to multiculturalism in their society, they are known to be tolerant towards foreigners. The Swedish nation also has experience of emigration. In the years from 1851 to 1930 over a million Swedes left the country to emigrate to the United States. This era created a folklore that perhaps helps the Swedes to empathize with the immigrants of today. Most of the immigrants are from the Nordic countries, the former Yugoslavia, Iran and Poland. International  business  in  Sweden   When doing business in a foreign country you need to be prepared to experience things that are different from those in your own culture. Without proper preparation and planning you may experience ‘culture shock’ that may have a negative influence on the outcome of business dealings. It is understandable that as an active business person you can only invest a limited amount of time into the exploration of cultural differences. Sometimes it is only a few hours after landing in a new country that you find yourself in a meeting room talking business.   businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •            |  6     General  Education   Education begins in day care centres and pre-schools, which the overwhelming majority of Swedish children attend, it then continues with the nine-year compulsory school and the voluntary upper secondary school, which again practically all Swedish youngsters attend. After secondary school, students can apply to universities and university colleges where it is possible to study both academic and more professional and vocational degrees. Educational  standards   One of the foundations of Sweden’s welfare system is free access to education for everyone. Most children in Sweden attend day care centres and pre-schools, where education begins. After that, there follows nine-years of compulsory schooling which is in turn followed by the voluntary upper secondary school which almost everyone attends. An interesting factor from an international perspective is that college and university education are also funded by the government and therefore are practically free for the students. In addition to this, even people from poorer backgrounds are able to attend university as studying is well supported by grants and study loans. However, from 2011 onwards, higher education has only been free for citizens of EU/EEA and Switzerland. Not only is the Swedish education system exemplary, but private businesses also often offer systems that encourage and enable self-improvement and further education. As Sweden is a highly developed country, there is an ever increasing need for advanced knowledge, and that is why investing into research is seen as investing in the future of the country. Sweden is known for its strong pedigree in R&D programmes, where the private and public sectors often work together towards ambitious goals.. Other  Issues     Workforce mobility in Sweden is comparable to that of Finland. The other Nordic countries Denmark and Norway however, have higher levels. Just as in Finland, the number of temporary workers in Sweden is very high. The Swedish problem does not end here; Swedes that are temporarily employed find it very challenging to move on to permanent employment. Most people on temporary contracts are young people, foreigners and those working in the service industries. From the employees’ perspective the good thing about Sweden is that together with Norway it has the greatest level of employee protection of all the Nordic countries. Cultural  taboos   Although Sweden represents a generally open culture, there do exist some issues that are best avoided, particularly at the beginning of a relationship. • Swedes avoid arguing, especially with visitors. If a discussion appears to be turning into an argument, do not be offended if a Swede abruptly changes the subject. businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •            |  7     • • • • Do not use a lot of superlatives when speaking. The Swedes are opposed to stretching the truth. The marks of rank or status are disliked. Do not get too personal. Topics like family, income and personal background should be avoided. Swedes are very proud of their society, so it is wise not to criticize their way of life, welfare system, economy, government or culture. Racist or sexist jokes are not tolerated. businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •            |  8     Business  Communication   In the current era of intensive globalisation, the marketplace is growing at a fast pace. This means expanding business borders and sometimes customising business practices. The subsections that follow give an overview of Sweden’s business practice to give a comprehensive picture of doing business in Sweden. Regardless of the situation and place, communicating without creating barriers can only be an advantage and bring benefits. Face-­‐to-­‐face  communication   Introductions may be difficult as they depend upon the circumstances of a particular situation. Generally, whenever possible, it is best to be introduced by a third party. When introducing yourself, it is essential to shake hands in a firm manner. However, this is typical mostly for the initial stage of a business encounter and may not be expected at subsequent meetings. The Swedes are considered friendly and open in discussions but tend to speak only when they have something important to say in other words, there is no necessity to speak if you do not really have anything to contribute. Swedes tend to call people by their first names regardless of their status. This informality does not necessarily mean familiarity and Swedes often keep their work and personal lives separate. If you can speak a few words of Swedish, it is a nice gesture if you try to use them. Most Swedes will be pleasantly surprised if you can say something in Swedish (f.ex. greetings ‘hej’ [hello] or ‘hej då’ [goodbye]). Recognize, however, that as soon as you are identified as an English speaker, your Swedish colleagues will probably switch to English. Swedes keep their body language and hand gestures to a minimum, rather than relying on non-verbal forms of communication. They prefer to maintain some personal space in their interactions so be sure to leave enough distance between you and the person you’re talking to. Always wait to be introduced to strangers. Shake hands with everyone individually in any group both when being introduced and when departing.   businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •            |  9     Language  Matters   The Swedes understand and speak English very well and children learn it from third grade to secondary school. A second foreign language – such as German, French or Swedish – is very often learned at schools, too. Foreign movies or TV-programs are not dubbed into Swedish. They are shown with subtitles, which improves foreign language skills. In the following section you will see some useful phrases in Swedish, which may help you to ‘break the ice’ in informal conversations. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Bye bye – Hej då Cheers – Skål Could you help me, please? – Kan du hjälpa mig? Do you speak English? – Talar du engelska? Goodbye – Adjö Good evening – God kväll Good morning – God morgon Good night – God natt Hello, hi – Hej How are you? – Hur står det till? How much? – Hur mycket? How much does this cost? – Vad kostar det här? I have to go now. – Jag måste gå nu. Let’s go! – Nu går vi! My name is… – Jag heter… Nice to meet you. – Trevligt att träffas. No – Nej No thank you – Nej tack See you – Vi ses See you tomorrow – Vi ses i morgon See you tonight – Vi ses i kväll Where is… – Var ligger… Yes – Ja Sweden is known for being a culture where no one is put on a pedestal and this is demonstrated in the way Swedes address each other. Regardless of age, social class and sex, Swedes use ‘du’ (you) when speaking to a single person. There is also a polite form to address someone, Ni (Equivalent for German ‘Sie’), but it is considered overly polite these days although elderly people still sometimes use it. When taking to more than one person, ‘Ni’ is still used. Swedes are informal in form of address but otherwise they may seem a bit reserved and rigid to start with. They have a tendency to keep their private lives separate from their working lives, which has an effect on what are considered appropriate topics of discussion. Swedes also keep expressions of emotion to the minimum in public, which further feeds the impression of rigidity. businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •              |  10   Business  Relationships   Swedish people are quite talkative, at least when compared to their eastern neighbors. The Swedes on average know the English language well and so it should be no problem to get by with English when doing business in the country. This is especially true when it comes to the younger generations. It is good to remember, that verbal agreements are binding in Sweden. Spoken words are taken seriously and Swedes expect you to acknowledge this. Thus, you should not make any invitations or engagements too lightly. When an agreement is reached and is sealed by a handshake, it is a deal! Of course written contracts are always signed too. Their role is more or less to underwrite the agreement – and of course to act as a legal document in case of conflict. When negotiating with the Swedes, be prepared for lots of discussion. Swedes are known for their democratic culture in decision making and discussing issues in a thorough way and at length. Making  contact   A gentle approach must be used in communication. Displays of power, hierarchy or emotion are not condoned. Swedes like planning and procedures, and appreciate this in their counterparts’ communications. The Swedish communication style is direct and open. It is useful to get directly to the point in order to avoid wasting time. This can appear to be a bit rude but you shouldn’t take it personally. Swedes are good listeners and they expect you to be one too. Instead of interrupting someone, wait for your turn to voice your opinion. Swedes like to establish relationships on an informal level. However, private and business lives are very much segregated, so this informality does not amount to intimacy. When doing business in Sweden, you can expect to address a person by his/her first name. To maintain their personal space, Swedes tend to stay relatively far apart when conversing. Personal space is private, so with the exception of the handshake, avoid touching. Handshakes should be swift and firm. Avoid speaking with your hands in your pockets as this is considered rude. Swedes do not use much body language in their communication. When talking with a Swede, make sure to maintain eye contact. Personal  Titles   Swedes do not consider titles or the level of education you have achieved something to brag about. At the beginning of relationships, Swedes are quite formal in their conduct until the partners become more familiar. Despite this, they tend to use first names right from the beginning of the relationship. businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •              |  11   Business  Etiquette     Attitudes and values form the basis of any culture. They reflect the ways people think and behave. Knowledge of these can be of significant importance if you wish to communicate with your counterparts effectively. Ignorance of these issues can put up a cultural barrier that may inhibit the communication process, and have a negative effect on the success of your activities in a country. Corporate  Social  Responsibility   Sweden is one of the world’s leading countries in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Issues such as climate change, gender, human rights and anti-corruption are all taken into account when doing business. Since the 1970s Sweden has been active and fast in reacting to the calls for CSR which nowadays is considered to be a crucial part of strategic planning in Swedish business life. Punctuality   In Sweden, as in Finland and Denmark, punctuality is very important both when doing business and making social engagements. It follows that you should never be late. If you must be late for any reason it is polite to phone and let someone know. Being late is seen as poor etiquette. Scheduling and planning are sometimes mentioned as part of the Swedish ‘way of life’. As a general rule spontaneity and improvisation are not the strongest characteristics of Swedes. Gift  giving   In business dealings, gifts are rarely given at the beginning of the relationship. Wait for your Swedish partner to give you a gift first. Although exchanging gifts is not common at the beginning of a business relationship, it is appropriate when you are closing your transaction. At social events gifts are expected. For instance, when you are invited to a dinner, flowers, liquor, wine, cake, or chocolates are appreciated by the hostess. Chrysanthemums, white lilies, red roses or orchids should be avoided as they are associated with other occasions. Family is very important to Swedes, so it is much appreciated if you bring small gifts for the family, e.g. candy for the children. Holiday cards are appropriate, particularly as a thank you for the recipient’s business during the previous year, and these should be mailed in time to be received the week before Christmas. It is customary to exchange small gifts at Christmas among colleagues and business partners, too. Business  Dress  Code   businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •            |  12     Sweden is one of the European countries where a casual dress code is the most popular in the work place. However, for business appointments you should dress more conservatively. Swedes themselves are usually fashionably well-dressed in public. Appropriate clothes would be a dark suit and tie for men, and a business suit or skirt and blouse for women. Trousers are also acceptable for businesswomen in Sweden. Swedes value quality and that is also true when it comes to clothes. The all-embracing value of egalitarianism in Swedish society can be seen in the business dress code. Modesty and a low profile are important. Avoid wearing anything flashy, even the most senior executives do not dress more elaborately than average employees. Most restaurants do not require a tie for men, although upscale ones expect both men and women to dress well. Highly-styled clothing is preferred by the Swedes in the evening when going out and this is even the case in the smaller towns. You should remember that there are four distinct seasons in Sweden. This should be taken into account when planning what to wear. During the height of summer, the weather can be hot and humid. The long winter requires appropriate winter clothes: heavy coats, warm gloves, hats, and boots. As is the case throughout all the Nordic countries, the colder weather allows women, and sometimes men, to wear heavy boots to work, and then to change into more comfortable office shoes. Because it is cold in Sweden, be prepared to dress in layers. Bribery  and  corruption   Sweden is one of the least corrupt countries in the world and there is very strong public opinion against all modes of corruption. Since 1962, the Swedish criminal code has included sanctions against any person receiving or giving any kind of bribe. This is good news for investors who want to set up a business in Sweden.   businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •              |  13   Business  Meeting  Etiquette     Importance  of  Business  Meeting   Meetings are expected to commence at the agreed time, and will normally start and end with a handshake. Being on time is important not only in business life but in social life as well. Punctuality symbolizes respect and efficiency in Sweden. The notion of the schedule must be well respected from the beginning to the end of the meeting. Swedes are keen to make plans and schedules. It is not surprising to see deadlines set during meetings. The notions of equality and consensus are also very common in business meetings. Make sure that everyone participates in the decision and that no direct confrontations occur. It is seen as a matter of course that meetings proceed according to a written agenda and that they result in a written summary recording the most important decisions and agreements. It is important to keep to the promises made at the meetings. Tasks agreed on should be accomplished in time. This will maintain and increase your credibility and build trust, which is an essential condition for any business relationship. Business  Meeting  planning   You should make the arrangements for your business meetings in good time. Making the appointment at least two weeks in advance is recommended. Changes at the last minute are not appreciated. When a meeting is organized in Sweden it is common to receive a confirmation in advance. The best time to set up a meeting is certainly not at the beginning of the day. The ideal times are 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Changing the time and place at short notice would be a mistake and not appreciated. Swedes treasure their leisure time, most of which is spent with the family. Business partners should not therefore, routinely expect to meet with their Swedish counterparts after 4 p.m. on weekdays. Refrain from scheduling meetings in the months of June, July, or August, as well as in late February through to early March since these are popular times for Swedes to go on holiday. During the Christmas holidays many Swedish business people are also unavailable. Send an agenda prior to any meeting. At the beginning of meetings small talk is brief and courteous. You will notice when doing business in Sweden that the Swedes are reasonably relaxed, informal and tolerant yet expect professional standards of behavior. Being good humored is acceptable but as with the Finns, being humorous should be kept to a minimum. Meetings are always expected to start and end at the agreed time. Do not expect people to work over weekends, holidays, or vacations, since these times are usually very precious to Swedes. It is however relatively common that a business person will take work home. If your Swedish business partner has given you his/her phone number it is acceptable to make a phone call after official business hours. You should remember however, not to disturb your Swedish business partners outside of office hours on business related matters that are not urgent, wait until the next business day. businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •              |  14   Negotiation  process   Be well-prepared when entering negotiations with Swedes; as they are known for analyzing information, backgrounds and proposals carefully. It is recommended that you provide your Swedish business partner with lots of information in writing to go through and study. Make sure your presentation is factual and well -organized. Swedes are known for their ability to secure good deals without making enemies. They cherish dialogue and the idea of democracy and it is normal to discuss subjects in detail in order to reach an agreement. Due to the consensus-forming aspect of Swedish culture, many meetings are sometimes necessary to reach agreement on even minor points. Swedes often hide their true feelings, and the lack of a clear leader in meetings can result in confusion. They will often state their ‘fair’ price up front, and be unwilling to negotiate further. They are often extremely informal in address, but display very little emotion in business dealings. When you are negotiating with a Swedish partner, make sure that you do not come across as being too emotional since showing too much emotion during a negotiation can be a mistake and create a bad impression. The use of humor is not usual behavior during the negotiations – this is serious business. It is also important to take into consideration payment terms. In business to business, Swedes are used to being paid within 30 days and all prices are in SEK. A partner from a different culture may find it difficult to negotiate with the Swedes, the main obstacle being trying to change their position towards making major concessions. They are methodical and detailed people, slow to change their positions and they will push hard for concessions themselves. To do business with Swedes it is important to be honest and all agreements must be written and signed since Swedes consider a written contract as a memorandum of understanding as well as being proof of a deal.  Meeting  protocol   Handshakes (with men and women) are the accepted form of greeting. Greet all participants with firm handshakes and direct eye contact both on arrival and departure. Unlike in the United States, men do not stand when a woman enters or leaves a room. Business cards are usually exchanged when meeting for the first time but there is no special etiquette as to how this should be done. A Swedish handshake is brief and firm, and involves no supporting gestures such as touching the shoulder or upper arm. Between men and women the handshake is a lot lighter. If wearing gloves, remove them before shaking hands. When greeting a married couple, the wife should be greeted first, except on a formal occasion where the hosts should first be greeted by the spouse to whom the invitation was addressed. Children are greeted by shaking hands, too. Swedish people are quite reserved and thus any expression of feelings should be kept to a minimum so as not to cause any embarrassment but a smile is always welcome. How  to  Run  a  Business  Meeting   The agenda for your meeting should be circulated in advance and you can expect it to be adhered to. The Swedes are punctual. They do not believe in hierarchy and will not respect it in their business dealings (indeed, this is the only area in which they refuse to compromise). They are easy-going, flexible and patient in negotiations, and are good listeners. They are known for their ability to secure good deals without making enemies. When running a businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •              |  15   meeting, it is important to remember that the Swedes tend to be matter of fact and businesslike in all aspects. Business meetings might start off with some small-talk but not necessarily. Being relaxed and good humored is viewed positively, but steer clear of cracking jokes. Modesty and sticking to the facts are qualities that are appreciated. Swedes do not appreciate wasting time. The chair of the meeting should take care that it keeps to time without hurrying and sticks to the agenda. Everyone should have an opportunity to express their opinion. The Swedish boss is there to coordinate the decision making process, share information and give direction, and decisions must be made by group consensus. This takes time, and often several meetings are needed in order to reach an agreement. A secretary is usually appointed for the meeting to take the minutes which will then be circulated after the meeting and any actions arising from the meeting will be followed up by an appointed person. Virtually all Swedish business people have a good knowledge of English and interpreters are rarely required. The availability and need for any audiovisual equipment for your meeting should be checked in advance. Follow  up  letter  after  meeting  with  client   The minutes of the meeting will be circulated afterwards and all important tasks and deadline dates should be stated there. Often, individuals who have been delegated tasks and actions will also be stated in the minutes. The participants are expected to work independently and to then report their accomplishments back to whoever is in charge. It is important, in order to maintain credibility, that items are followed up and completed in the timescales agreed. If items are not followed, it may affect the attendance at future meetings. In cases where for some reason it is not possible to keep to what was agreed on, all parties involved should be informed about the delays. An agreement in Sweden is considered to be active when articulated for the first time although it might have not yet been confirmed in writing. Remember that open confrontation, conflict and disagreements should be avoided whenever possible. Business  meals   Lunch is the most common mealtime during which to conduct business negotiations in Sweden. Longer and socially more intimate dinners offer a good opportunity to get to know your business partners and to develop relationships that in the long run are always an important underpinning for your subsequent business encounters. Breakfast meetings are uncommon in Sweden as Swedes usually have breakfast at home with their families. Lunchtime is between 11.30 am and 1.30 pm and the Swedes do not like spending more than one hour for lunch. It is recommended to go to formal restaurants with your partner and you should make a table reservation in advance. A less formal restaurant lunch usually includes a main course, salad, bread and coffee at a very reasonable price. Another option for lunch is an open-faced sandwich containing a rich assortment of ingredients such as meats, cheeses, and vegetables. Alcohol is seldom consumed during lunch. Generally speaking, business meals are not the place to reach and sign an agreement. Spouses can also be invited along to meals although not at lunch time. Smoking is prohibited in Swedish restaurants. businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •              |  16   Swedes are very hospitable and sometimes might invite you to visit their homes even during the week, although this would normally happen at the weekend. Usually invitations will be sent out weeks in advance as the event has to be planned. Be sure to arrive promptly and go with a gift. Fine chocolates, a bottle of wine, or flowers for the hostess all make good gifts. If invited to dinner it is important to be on time regardless of whether you are invited to a restaurant or to your business partner’s home. Dinner is usually served from 6 p.m. to 7:30 pm in Swedish homes. At weekends, dinner parties often start at 8 o’clock. The traditional Swedish dinner has four courses: fish, meat, salad, and dessert. Drinks served with dinner are usually regional beers or wine. Swedish cuisine is similar to that of Denmark and Norway in being traditionally simple and satisfying, and nowadays also healthy. The Swedish countryside is rich in natural resources; ingredients from nature – berries, fish, mushrooms and game – are widely used. The interest in healthy eating has boosted the consumption of vegetarian food among Swedes and therefore it is not difficult to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet in Sweden. In the last few decades, immigrants from all over the world have enriched Swedish food culture with a host of exciting dishes. Sweden is one of the highest consumers of coffee in the world and milk consumption is also very high. Tipping is rarely expected in Sweden, but it is not completely unusual. A service charge is included on most hotel and restaurant bills, but a small gratuity (between 5 and 10 percent) is appropriate for evening meals at restaurants. If you buy a drink at the bar and pay directly, it’s generally appreciated if you leave any small coins from the change on the bar. Business  Meeting  tips   Before doing business in a foreign country it is advisable to know some facts of the country and its culture. For example, it is useful to have an idea of Sweden’s economy, its high standard of living, the sports performances, the architecture and the history of the country. It is important to remember that Swedes are very proud of their country and so you should not criticize or question the Swedish life style. Avoid superficiality in conversation as Swedes consider lightly given compliments as being insincere. In Sweden, businesswomen are equal to men and as a result they have more opportunities and latitude than in some other countries, e.g. they can pay the bill at a restaurant or invite a male business partner to dinner without any problems or awkwardness. Most Swedish business people have good English skills and so interpreters are rarely needed. Important to know for North Americans is that in Sweden the dates are written in the following way: the day first, then the month, then the year [e.g. October 21, 2012, is written 21.10.12.]. businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •            |  17     Internship  and  placement     Work  experience   Sweden is known for being a tolerant and multicultural society and therefore it is no surprise that it has a tradition of welcoming people from all over the world to study in the country – currently this number is around 30,000. In order to qualify for an internship you will need to be at least 19 years old and to be able to communicate fluently in English. The length of placements can range from six months to two years depending on what you are studying and the organization you are working for. Training placements in Sweden can be organised via: • • • • • EU programmes – Comenius (future school teachers) and Erasmus (higher education) Nordplus-programmes (Participants from the participating Nordic and Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden – are eligible for financial support from Nordplus. Participants from other countries may take part in programme activities, but are not eligible for financial support from the programme) IAESTE (The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience) AIESEC Student organisations The Erasmus programme is probably the most common one. All degree students enrolled at a European university are able to join the Erasmus traineeship mobility programme. The organizations that host student placements can be companies, training and research centres or other types of organization. An Erasmus traineeship will always be included as part of the trainee’s degree studies. Finding a suitable placement is the student’s responsibility, so they need to be pro-active. When the student has found a placement, he/she is able to apply for an Erasmus placement grant from his/her home university that covers some of the living costs. (European Commission 2012) In addition to placement programmes, many student organizations also run training placements in their particular fields of study. That is why probably the best way for students to find a placement is to make contact with a student organization in their own field. Especially in the case of vocational education, international placements are organised via schools. Internship  and  Placement  advice   There are many practical issues related to international placements that need to be taken care of either by the trainee or the host company. It is important to allow enough time for all the arrangements and the necessary formalities. The training organizations, educational institutes and home and host organizations will be able to help with the formalities. businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •              |  18   Social  security  and  European  health  insurance   The Swedish health care and social welfare systems are heavily subsidized (mostly taxfinanced). As a visitor it is your responsibility to take care of insurance which will offer you some benefits. Without insurance, medical treatment in Sweden is very expensive. Before arriving in Sweden, you need to ensure that you have adequate health insurance coverage. If you are a citizen of any of the Nordic, EU/EEA countries or Switzerland, you will have access to essential health care if you register beforehand at a social insurance office in your home country and obtain a European Health Insurance card. Alternatively, you can arrange your own insurance cover beforehand in your home country. As a visiting non-EU/EEA student, if your program is longer than one year, you are entitled to the same health benefits as Swedes if you register at your tax office. However, the medical insurance doesn’t cover your journey to Sweden. If you are a non-EU/EEA student and are staying less than a year, you do not have automatic access to health care. In this case you might still have an opportunity for governmental Kammarkollegiet insurance. Sweden also has reciprocal agreements for medical benefits with a number of countries. Students from countries with this type of agreement need only present their passport and a certificate from their national social insurance office when seeking medical help. To find out whether these are available to you, contact the host organization or the social insurance office in your home country. Students who are not covered by any of these agreements must arrange their own insurance cover. If you are taken ill or injured, go to your district health centre (vårdcentralen) first. Vårdcentralen will charge you about SEK 150-200 for a consultation. If the centre is closed, go to the nearest hospital. If it´s a serious emergency and you need an ambulance, dial 112. Safety   Do not be afraid to contact the police and other authorities in Sweden, since Sweden is one of the least corrupt countries in the world. Do  I  need  a  visa?   Whether you need a visa depends on your country of citizenship. Citizens of all European Union member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland do not need a visa in EU countries. Where a student would need to apply for a visa, finding an internship and signing a contract with the host company must be completed before starting the visa process. To confirm visa requirements it is advisable to contact the Swedish consulate or embassy in your home country. If your internship in Sweden will last longer than three months, you will also need a residence permit before arriving in Sweden. To get a decision in time, it is important that you apply for a residence permit immediately once your internship has been confirmed. Applications should be made at a Swedish consulate or embassy and successful applicants will be given a businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •              |  19   residence permit card. Since this card is proof of your residence permit, you should show it, along with a valid passport when you enter Sweden. Internship  and  placement  salary   Internships may be paid or unpaid. Quite often students receive a salary cover their living costs from traineeships that are part of their higher education degree. If the training takes place via a placement programme, students are usually entitled to a living allowance or wage that covers food, accommodation and travel to and from work, and also includes a small amount to help the student learn about the new culture. Internship  and  placement  accommodation   Often, the associations that organize training placements will be able to help students to find accommodation. Sometimes it is the responsibility of the host organization to arrange accommodation for the trainee. The trainee can also search for rented flats on the open market, but this can be difficult especially prior to arriving in Sweden. However, student housing is likely to be a more affordable option than renting a flat on the open market. It is advisable to enquire about housing options from the host organization or from the local student housing foundation. Depending on availability, you can choose to live by yourself or in a shared student flat where you will have your own room but share a bathroom. The monthly rent naturally varies depending on the location, size and type of the flat. The average monthly rent in student accommodation ranges from approximately SEK 2,000 to 4,500 for a room. businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •              |  20   Cost  of  Living     The cost of living varies considerably depending on where you live. For example, accommodation and other living costs may be higher in Stockholm and other large cities than in more rural areas. The average monthly living expenses for a student in Sweden are approximately SEK 7,070 (about 750 €). Money  and  Banking   The currency of Sweden is the Swedish Krona (SEK). Most international credit cards, Visa, MasterCard, Eurocard and American Express are also accepted throughout Sweden. To facilitate everyday life, it might be advisable to open a bank account. To do this, you will need to visit the bank branch in person and have your passport with you for identification. You may also need to show your Student Union membership and a letter stating that you are a visiting student. Traveling  costs   Usually, students need to pay for and organize their own travel to the destination country. If you are keen to explore Sweden getting around by cars, bikes, coaches, trains, ferries, and airlines is easy. Motorways and roads are well maintained and relatively free of traffic in comparison to many countries. The outdoors and nature is worth exploring and there’s a lot to see and experience for those who appreciate an unspoiled environment and sporting activities such as canoeing, kayaking, hiking, horse riding and skiing. In big cities like Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg, culture and the arts are flourishing and there are numerous events and museums offering cultural experiences. businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •              |  21   Work-­‐life  Balance     Sweden like Denmark and the Netherlands, has adopted a policy to improve work-life balance for its citizens. For example, flexible working time arrangements have been considered and sabbatical leave has been tested. The Swedish government has taken the initiative to reduce the work-life conflict experienced mostly by women, by promoting men’s participation in housework and the upbringing of children. Parental leave is structured so that it encourages men to stay at home more with their newborn babies, thus encouraging both parents to take care of their children. Moreover, the Swedish welfare system includes an extensive child-care system that guarantees a place in a public day-care facility for all children between the age of 2 and 6 years. Regardless of these measures, there are still problems. There is strong gender segregation in public service employment (health, education, and childcare); women rather than men reduce their working hours after childbirth, and the long periods of leave taken (or reduced working hours) do not help female career progression. As a result, pay differences remain significant, and are not narrowing. National  holidays   F If you plan to do business in Sweden during the summer, it is important to remember that most of the Swedes take their vacations between June and August. The minimum vacation per year is five weeks. Swedes are also not available during the Christmas holidays at the end of the year or at Easter. The official holidays can be divided into Christian and non-Christian. The main Christian holidays are Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension Day, Pentecost and All Saints. The nonChristian holidays are New Year’s Day, May Day (Valborg), National Day and Midsummer. Uniquely celebrated in Sweden is the holiday of Saint Lucia which is celebrated on December 13. Working  hours   Normal working hours in Sweden are 40 hours a week with an upper limit of 48 hours. Obviously, there is no limit for managers who sometimes have to work at home. Due to the development of telecommunications, more and more Swedes are used to working from home. Always keep in mind, though, that after 5 pm most Swedish employees go home to take care of their families. Working overtime is neither valued nor seen as necessary in fact it can be seen as an indication of poor planning and time management. Workdays are usually from 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. Lunch breaks usually last approximately one hour and the most common time to have the break is between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Health  insurance   businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •              |  22   During the 20th century, at the price of the world’s highest tax burden, Sweden built up what is often called the world’s most generous general social welfare system, with such elements as virtually free (tax-financed) schools, child care, health care, pensions, elderly care, social services and various economic security systems. This welfare State, known in Sweden as the “home of the people,” was a unique experiment in social engineering that has attracted great attention among political scientists and politicians worldwide. Many of its features have been emulated in other countries. In recent decades, as the country’s previous steady, high economic growth came to an end, the Swedish Welfare State has been under heavy pressure. Today, the country’s economic security systems are financially burdened and are struggling with serious structural problems. Without a doubt, Sweden has become “harder around the edges.” Yet the main features of the Swedish welfare system, with its publicly guaranteed and financed safety net for everyone in the country, so far remain intact. The hospitals are managed by Central county, District county and Regional hospitals. If you need to see a doctor or dentist it is important to check that he/she has public insurance. All European citizens can access for free public hospitals in Sweden. In order to benefit from free assistance, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is compulsory. When you are travelling, make sure to keep all your receipts, prescriptions and bills in order that these outgoings can be refunded. In case of a medical emergency, use the emergency telephone number “112” to contact the appropriate emergency service. In the case of non-emergencies, you can visit a local medical centre or clinic, called an “Akutmottagning” or “Vardcentral.” Patients should be prepared to present their passports. businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •            |  23     Social  Media  Guide     Social  Media  Guide  for  Sweden   In the year 2012, 92 percent of Swedes had internet access and a staggering 87 percent of Swedes had broadband connections. When it comes to using social media, Swedes are at the forefront with 58 percent having posted something on a social media network in the last three months. Close to 5 million Swedes have Facebook accounts, meaning that Facebook penetration in Sweden is almost 55 percent. As is the case in other Nordic countries, Twitter is lagging behind in terms of users and is yet to reach its peak. In January 2012 according one estimate, the number of Swedish Twitter users was only 0.3 million. Since LinkedIn has been around longer it has also been more widely used by Swedes. In 2011, LinkedIn had 0.7 million Swedish accounts. The Swedish government made the news headlines recently by handing over its Twitter account to a different Swedish citizen every week as individuals were tweeting offensive comments under the shared official Swedish account. Search  and  Social  Media  Marketing  for  International  Business   Learn how to use social media for business from one of Salford Business School’s latest business management courses. The course was jointly researched by the Passport to Trade 2.0 project team and prepared in collaboration with some of the leading digital marketing agencies in the UK. This Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) can help businesses and individuals to make the best use of search and social media platforms. The course is called Search and Social Media Marketing for International Business and is applicable to students looking for placements abroad as well as businesses thinking about new trade links; it comprises the following twelve topics: How to develop a personal brand online (1/12) • • Whether you are a student beginning a job search or a business person planning a new business venture, personal branding can make a difference. Learn about personal branding and why it is important for you. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=l9LYw0mgtn4&feature=player _embedded businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •            |  24     How to use Twitter (2/12) • • Learn the basics of using Twitter to develop an individual or business profile. Remember to use hash tag #SSMMUoS to share your learning journey on this course so far! http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=9CVY3pp91Dc&feature=playe r_embedded How to use Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) (3/12) • • Learn the principles of SEO to ensure that your website and any social media profiles are found by individuals searching for your name, products and services. These basic principles of SEO include keyword research, on-page optimisation and off-page optimisation. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=zw27cRcwtM0&feature=player _embedded How to use social media for international business development (4/12) • • Social media networks break down the traditional country barriers, but do you know which networks are relevant for the country you are interested in trading with? Find out in this video how to identify the relevant networks and what social media strategies you might be able to use on these networks. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=Bx-B56AHS4c&feature= player_embedded businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •            |  25     How to use Facebook (5/12) • • Facebook is currently the largest social media network in the world and it can benefit you as a business as well as an individual. Learn how to develop a Facebook business page and see how other businesses use it and what strategies work for them. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=UmRGn-vdcO8&feature= player_embedded How to use YouTube (6/12) • • YouTube was identified as the second largest social network amongst younger internet users as part of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project. Learn how to optimise your video content in order to reach wider audiences for your profile. http://www.youtube.com/watch? feature=player_embedded&v=G2 0OVpmTBss How to use LinkedIn (7/12) • • LinkedIn is one of the three main professional social networks – the others being Xing and Viadeo which are also popular in several European countries. Learn how to make the most of LinkedIn for your profile. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=N6e_EAUQqic&feature=playe r_embedded businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •            |  26     How to use Google+ (8/12) • • • Google+ is the second largest social network as of January 2013. It is one of the fastest growing social networks and one that has the biggest impact when it comes to search engine results integration for anyone who uses Google as their main search engine. Learn how to make the most of Google+ for you and your digital profiles. http://www.youtube.com/watch? feature=player_embedded&v=8ti 3SPHkEWw How to use copywriting online (9/12) • • Copywriting is a process of translating technical specifications and product descriptions into engaging and understandable customer focused text. Learn about the basic techniques in structuring your online content here. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=5f1hx_f2ONI&feature=player_ embedded How to stay legal on social media (10/12) • • Everything and anything you do and say online can be potentially viewed by anyone who has internet access. Always respect the law and familiarise yourself with new options offered to you through a creative commons licence which is popular online. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=eQxDpiHsdk&feature=player_embedde d businessculture.org     Content  Sweden  
  •            |  27     How to use monitoring and reporting (11/12) • • Whether you are an individual or a business spending time on social media – there has to be a return on your engagement online. How do you justify your engagement on social media to your boss? Listen to the industry experts in this area and see what you might be able to measure in respect of your on-line engagements. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=LbEq7jsG0jg&feature=player_ embedded How to blog (12/12) • • http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=OqVjR7oI8Rs&feature=player _embedded businessculture.org     • Blogging is a process of writing text and sharing content with others. It can help your customers or friends to keep in-touch regardless of social media platforms. Think about the voice you might want to adopt and who your audience might be. Share your thoughts with us by writing a blog post about this MOOC. Tweet us the link to your post on the #SSMMUoS Twitter hash tag. Content  Sweden  
  •              |  28   Passport  to  Trade  2.0  Project  Partnership   Five Universities: Lead partner: Salford Business School, University of Salford, United Kingdom Elena Vasilieva Aleksej Heinze Alex Fenton URENIO research unit at Aristole University of Thessaloniki, Greece Christina Kakderi Nitsa Papadopouloui TSE Entre Research Centre Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, Finland Satu Aaltonen Elisa Akola Institute for Information System Research University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany Verena Hausmann Susan P. Williams Petra Schubert Valahia University of Targoviste, Romania Adriana Grigorescu Leonardo Badea Three Small & Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) Spin, Italy Carmine Antonio Donato Dorella De Tommaso Technology Development & Innovation – TDI LTD Bulgaria Milanka Slavova Ivan Stoychev TIS Praha, Czech Republic Anna Klosova Richard Adekeye businessculture.org     Content  Sweden