Doing Business in Austria

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Expats moving to Japan will experience a traditional and respectful working cultureAustria has a small population and little in the way of natural resources and therefore relies heavily on neighbouring countries for imports and expat workers to fill any labour shortages.

Despite these handicaps, however, Austrians enjoy one of the highest standards of living in Europe. The country’s economy is robust as it is perfectly located to take advantage of the development and enlargement of the EU. In addition, Austria has the highly developed infrastructure needed to act as a bridge between Eastern and Western Europe.

Austria is ranked 21st out of 189 countries analysed by the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Survey in 2016. The country scored particularly well in the following categories: trading across borders (1), enforcing contracts (6) and getting electricity (17).
 
Despite the country’s small population, Austrians are known for being hard-working, industrious and well-educated.  As a result of Austria’s strong business culture, it is an attractive destination for those looking to set up new business ventures. It is particularly suited towards businesses in the banking and finance sector as well as engineering and bio-technology companies.

Fast facts

 

Business hours

Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm


Business language

While German is the official language in Austria, English is widely spoken in business circles

Dress

Formal and conservative; dark suits are normally reserved for the more austere banking institutions, otherwise a jacket, shirt and tie will suffice for men, while trousers and corporate wear are acceptable for women.

Gifts

Not necessary in business but expected if invited into a colleague's home – flowers or chocolate will suffice.

Greetings

When meeting business colleagues a formal handshake is appropriate at the beginning and end of the business proceedings.

Gender equality

It is fairly unusual to see women in very senior positions in locally-owned Austrian businesses. Business women visiting Austria, however, can expect to be treated with a great deal of professional respect.

Business culture in Austria


While Austria’s economy changed dramatically in the post-World War 2 era as a result of cut backs in state involvement and a series of privatizations, there is a still a legacy of bureaucracy and hierarchy that dominate the Austrian business place today. Austrian businesses tend to have a hierarchical management structure, with respect being granted to those in senior positions.

Hierarchy

As would be expected in a hierarchical business culture, senior management figures tend to be less open to group decision-making than in countries where a more inclusive approach is used. Therefore, management will often give direct orders to their subordinates who will be expected to deliver on those instructions without questioning their authority. Business culture in Austria is not very consensus-driven and managers are expected to be experts in their field – therefore, they are considered to be in a position to make decisions alone without needing to consult their colleagues.

Respect

There is a somewhat old-fashioned sense of politeness and courtesy in the Austrian workplace. While senior managers hold most of the power within an organisation, they will rarely act in a tyrannical way. In fact, managers work hard to create a comfortable workplace and keeping all the workers on their side is a priority.

Sozialpartnerschaft

On a higher level, Austrian business culture prides itself on the concept of Sozialpartnerschaft, or social partnership, which promotes cooperation and dialogue in matters relating to industrial relations. Therefore, all industries, trades and professions in Austria have specific umbrella bodies which work together to promote healthy labour relations. It is very important to work closely and cooperate with business partners and Austrian subsidiary companies.

 

Dos and don’ts of business in Austria


  • Do arrive to meetings well-prepared; this means bringing supplementary materials for all parties
  • Don’t arrive late to a business meeting in Austria, as it is seen as unprofessional
  • Do dress formally for business meetings in Austria
  • Don’t use coded language as this can be confusing. Always be as direct and literal in the use of business language as possible.
  • Do address senior management using academic and professional titles
  • Don’t assume that Austrians are like Germans. While they speak German, Austria is a country with a great sense of history and a unique culture. 

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