Psychic distance and cultural proximity between Norway and Denmark

Anne Falck Nordskar

Student thesis: Master thesis


Cultural differences and the challenges they pose to business in distant countries is a well known subject. However, the importance of awareness of cultural differences between relatively similar neighbouring countries such as Norway and Denmark is not as profoundly established. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the cultural relationship between Norway and Denmark, and how this is constructed. Another aim is to assess the influence geography and language has on perceptions of cultural differences. Furthermore, the objective is to evaluate the influence perceived proximity in geography and language has on perceived similarities in a business context. A quantitative method is chosen, and a two-case approach applied. Case 1 consists of Norwegians working in Denmark, and case 2 of Norwegians working in Spain. The ground for dividing the cases is the desire to compare outcomes. 14 semi-structured phone interviews with Norwegian businessmen and –women in Denmark and Spain are conducted. The questions focus on factors that influence perception of distance and proximity in cultural terms, among these geography and language. The results reveal several factors as important in determining an individual’s perception of a new culture. Geographic distance and language are as expected found to effect the perceived distance and proximity between countries to a large degree. The perception of proximity in language and geography further leads to perceived cultural similarities. Furthermore, the context of the first cultural encounter is discovered as particularly relevant in determining the perception an individual is left with. The principal conclusion is that factors such as geography and language as well as the surroundings or context of the encounters pose important influence on Norwegians’ perceptions of similarities in a business context with Danes.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages87