A Study on Cultural- and Leadership Differences Between Denmark and Sweden: An Approach for Danish Leaders to Surmount Differences in the Swedish Business Culture

Mads Vinding & Jacob Tanski Dahan

Student thesis: Master thesis


Inspired by the concept of the psychic distance paradox as proposed by O’Grady & Lane(1996), and based on the lack of comprehensive research, the overall purpose of the researchwas to identify how Danish leaders should approach the Swedish business culture to bestsurmount the cultural- and leadership differences and increase their chances of a successfulendeavor in the Swedish business culture. To sufficiently conclude the research question, theauthors investigated leadership preferences between Danish- and Swedish leaders, culturaldifferences between the Danish- and Swedish business culture, and lastly, the relevancy ofthe psychic distance paradox. A priori, the authors performed a mixed method approach,consisting of a quantitative- and qualitative study, which yielded in the use of a concurrenttriangulation design to sufficiently conclude the research question. Specifically, thequantitative study aimed to generalize cultural differences and leadership preferences, whilethe qualitative study aimed to gather in-depth insights into the cultural differences andleadership preferences as well as examining the relevancy of the psychic distance paradox.In broad terms, the findings reveal, using the applied theoretical frameworks, significant, yetsubtle, differences in the business cultures and leadership preferences, and support therelevancy of the psychic distance paradox in this specific context. To mention some of themost noteworthy differences, the Swedish business culture is found to exhibit consensus andcalculated decision-making, whereas the Danish business culture is found to exhibitindependent- and impulsive decision-making. Furthermore, laissez-faire leadership is foundto be less culturally appropriate in the Swedish business culture, which in contrast, is foundto be appropriate in the Danish business culture. However, important for Danish leaders, thetransactional- and transformational leadership styles are found to be culturally appropriatein the Swedish business culture, albeit contingent on adopting certain elements related toeach leadership style. Based on the empirical findings and in conjunction with existingliterature, Danish leaders are recommended to put emphasis on three elements tosuccessfully approach the Swedish business culture and surmount its cultural- andleadership differences, namely (1) extensive preparation, (2) adoption of importantbehavioral traits and (3) adoption of a culturally appropriate leadership style and culturaltraits.

EducationsMSc in International Business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages152
SupervisorsVerner Worm