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Investing in the Norwegian market: what to expect from a "Scandinavian" business partner?

For several decades, Norwegian business has been willing to choose Lithuania. The trend observed today shows that the companies of our country are also moving more and more boldly from the individual to the cooperative model, and it is in this Scandinavian country that investment is being sought. Specialists told what Lithuanian businesses that want to work with the Norwegian market can expect and why they should focus not on differences in business cultures, but on building trust.

"New markets open up more opportunities for business. Although Norway is relatively closed, it is increasingly of interest to Lithuanian companies. Over the last few decades, our country's businesses have sought not only to understand but also to adopt the culture of the Nordic countries. As a result, we can enjoy many successful cooperation projects. We notice that the number of inquiries regarding the search for partners in Norway has increased significantly at the moment” says Lina Mockutė, the head of the Norwegian-Lithuanian Chamber of Commerce (NLCC).

High requirements and tolerance for newcomers
According to Alfredas Chmieliauskas, an associate professor at ISM University of Management and Economics, in today's world it is difficult to imagine at least some significant activities that would not have touched the globalization tendencies, which also raise the imperative of cooperation. Working with the founder of ISM - an authoritative Norwegian higher education institution - he noticed two peculiarities of “Norwegian” management, to which the lithuanian university had to adapt.

"Although the scope of ISM's activities was still small at the beginning of its development, the Norwegian set such strict requirements for the formulation of annual goals and control of their implementation as are usual in a much more mature organization. No matter how we kicked, we were forced to quickly learn the basic rules of the "genre." Over the years and as the institution has grown, we have realized the importance of these first lessons, ”says A. Chmieliauskas.

Another feature of management that the ISM associate professor has noticed is the tolerance and tolerance shown by Norwegians when working with newcomers to the field.

"Sometimes seeing even our not-so-successful efforts, they did not abuse their powers as a major shareholder, but resolved the disagreements to ensure a common understanding of all stakeholders. The "do not force but persuade" principle is not easy to implement. This sometimes requires a lot of time and patience, but consistent adherence to it in the long run helps to create a favorable social work environment” A. Chmieliauskas shares his experience.

"As a consultant to organizations, I face the challenges posed by increasing international competition and its demands. As for the bilateral partnership between Lithuania and Norway, it is sometimes necessary to work with Norwegian capital companies expanding their activities to Lithuania. In this case, it is worthwhile for Lithuanian leaders to get acquainted with the research of the famous Dutchman Geert Hofstede in the field of cultural management dimensions, ”A. Chmieliauskas recommends.

It is important to gain the trust of Norwegian companies

Although differences in business cultures exist, research conducted by ISM is more indicative of similarities in management in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries. According to A. Chmieliauskas, significantly more significant differences become apparent when comparing our region with such countries as Australia, Canada or China. As a result, in projects with Norwegian partners, Lithuanian companies can expect a similar understanding and agreement on the principles for implementing common goals.

The head of NLCC Lina Mockutė also agrees with this. According to her, today the cultural differences between Norway and Lithuania are no longer so pronounced, and both countries are equal partners with mature business ties. However, one of the biggest challenges facing Lithuanian businesses is gaining the trust of Norwegian companies.

"It takes patience to enter this market, but it is likely that gaining trust will open up opportunities for long-term cooperation. In Norway, the greatest potential lies in those Lithuanian companies that do not seek to compete at low prices, but focus on high-quality, higher value-added products. Professionalism and the ability to offer unique solutions are also valued there, ”says Lina Mockutė.

Currently, most cooperation is in the areas of trade and services, and the search for partners for joint innovation projects has intensified. Assessing that Norway is focused on research and innovation development, the head of the NLCC says that joint bilateral projects to develop new products or improve industrial processes will continue to be interesting.

Investment potential has strengthened in several areas

It is difficult to say how the situation caused by the virus will develop further, therefore Lina Mockutė notices that the investments are currently viewed much more cautiously. Nevertheless, business opportunities in certain areas have just grown during the pandemic.

"Like other countries, Norway was hit very hard by the pandemic, but in the summer the situation began to change and the economic situation of many companies improved. At the time, strong government finances, a well-functioning health care system, an advanced digital infrastructure, and political determination, which is critical to a society struggling to overcome the health crisis, helped to manage the crisis effectively. It can be said that in the context of a pandemic, the model of all the Nordic countries differed from the others” says Lina Mockutė, the head of the NLCC, about the stability of Norway.

According to her, as far as dealing with the results of the pandemic is concerned, Lithuania also remains a reliable partner in this context. There are many Norwegian companies operating in our country, which even during the pandemic became the main partner in the customer supply chain, which had to increase production capacity.

The great potential of the Lithuanian-Norwegian partnership is visible in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, as well as in the fields of industrial development, energy and financial technologies. Innovative Lithuanian companies developing information and communication technology solutions can receive up to 1 million. Eur investment through the Norway Grants program. Applications for participation in the program are accepted by the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA).

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