Austrian Culture

Business Culture

Meetings

  • Up to six weeks’ notice for meetings should be provided. This is particularly important for meetings with those at the executive level.
  • In the peak summer holiday months of July and August, it is usually difficult to arrange meetings or appointments. Scheduling meetings during the Christmas and New Year period is not advised as many companies shut down over this time. 
  • Punctuality to a meeting is extremely important. If you are late for an engagement, it is advised to call ahead and inform your Austrian counterpart. Cancelling an appointment last minute will be poorly received.
  • The title of your counterpart should always be used when communicating in person as well as in written correspondence. Austria recognises more titles than countries from the English-speaking West might. Thus, be sure to confirm the title of your Austrian counterpart.
  • Light conversation before a meeting is common.
  • Meetings tend to be highly structured and formal. Managers will work from precise and detailed agendas that are followed rigorously.
  • It is important to observe the during a meeting. The highest-ranking person will enter the room first. However, adherence to is less important in more informal business settings.
  • The primary aim of meetings is usually to reach decisive outcomes and results as opposed to providing a platform for general and open discussion.
  • Meetings are quite lengthy, largely due to the time dedicated to examining proposals in detail.
  • Presenters will provide facts, examples and evidence to back up proposals and claims.


Task Oriented

Business relationships are often kept formal as many Austrians do not always feel the necessity to build personal relationships before conducting business. For many Austrians, one’s experience, credentials and the longevity of the company is more important than the individual and their personality. Austrians often strive for perfection in all areas of business, and in their approach to work, they tend to focus on achieving the task at hand as best they can. It is not uncommon for Austrians to compartmentalise their work and business relationships.


In turn, there is a strict distinction between private life and working life, with interpersonal relationships usually playing a secondary role in business relations. Getting to know your Austrian business counterpart on a personal level can be quite difficult. Despite this ‘strictly business’ approach, Austrians are open to developing friendships, especially over the long term. They enjoy building rapport as long as it does not complicate or affect business relations.


Attention to Detail

Austrians tend to be meticulous in their business approach. Agreements, contracts and proposals will be examined in great detail to achieve an in-depth understanding of the contents. Austrians take great care to plan methodically and thus spend much time deliberating and scrutinising all factors of a decision. Proposals prepared by Austrians tend to be and detailed, containing a clear strategy and offer with lots of examples and facts to illustrate points made. Moreover, Austrians are highly analytical and rational when deliberating business matters. If you make understatements or innuendos, expect your Austrian counterpart to ask for clarification. Your Austrian counterpart may poorly receive exaggerated claims or communication.


Considerations

  • Business communication tends to be highly formal and political. People tend to be highly careful of what they say to or about someone.
  • In speaking in German, always refer to those in positions of seniority in the formal ‘you’ (‘Sie’) until otherwise stated (see ‘Verbal’ in Communication for more information).
  • Business cards are usually exchanged without a formal ritual. Your Austrian counterpart will appreciate your efforts if one side of your business card is translated into German. Although not necessary, it demonstrates to your Austrian counterpart attention to detail.
  • In Austria, it is customary to state one's name when answering the phone. In a business setting, one would state the company's name, the name of the person answering/delivering a call, and a simple greeting such as "good morning".
  • If you are invited by your Austrian business counterpart to dinner, avoid discussing business unless it is initiated by the host.
  • Austrian business culture tends to follow a well-defined and strictly observed . In this , responsibilities and distinctions between roles are made clear.
  • Generally, one's place in the is determined by individual achievements and expertise in a given field.
  • It is important to show respect and deference to those who have attained positions of importance.
  • Although Austrian businesses prefer introductions from a mutual contact, they typically do not require a personal relationship to conduct business.
  • Decisions are usually made by those at the top of the company. However, since many companies are relatively small, it is usually easy to meet with the head decision maker and negotiate with them directly.
  • Avoid hard selling or insisting that everyone agree with your opinion. Confrontation or high-pressure tactics will be poorly received.
  • Prioritising short-term goals is common, particularly in Vienna. Thus, it may be necessary to remind your counterpart of their obligations often.
  • On the (2016), Austria ranks 17th out of 176 countries, receiving a score of 75 (on a scale from 0 to 100). This perception suggests that the country’s public sector is somewhat clean from corruption.

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