Western Europe

Western European countries studied by the Passport to Trade 2.0 project are: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Western European Business Culture map

Business Culture in Austria Business Culture in Germany Business Culture in Belgium Business Culture in the Netherlands Business Culture in France Business Culture in Luxembourg

Similarities in Western European business culture

All six countries have the Euro as their common currency, they are all within the same time zone (CET: 0) and the political and economic structures are relatively stable. The transport infrastructure and public transportation schedules are well developed and maintained. The educational systems are also compatible with a high level of educated work force. When it comes to business etiquette, these countries tend to favour formal arrangements where documentation and formalities are preferred over personal relationships in business. Punctuality in Western European countries tends to be valued.

The most common social media network used for private purposes is Facebook.

Differences in Western European business culture

However, even though these countries are located quite close to each other and have a number of commonalities, it is also important to note that their business cultures have some differences. For example, when addressing someone formally in a work setting, location should be born in mind to avoid offence. In Austria, France, Germany and Luxembourg it is common to use the complete title of a person together with his last name to address him or her. However, in Belgium and the Netherlands this is not the case – rather, the title is not necessary, only the name.

Most of the individuals in these countries could speak English as their business language as well as German. However, in France, an effort to speak French is appreciated since it is considered to be a major part of the national culture.

The use of student placement schemes is popular in Germany, France (here it is considered essential), Netherlands and Austria but it is not so popular in Belgium.

Another example of differences can be found in the use of social media networks for business purposes. While LinkedIn is one of the primary professional social networks in Luxemburg and the Netherlands, Germanys’ most used business network is called Xing and in France it is Viadeo.

Explore the following pages, which contain more information on each of these countries:

Western Europe