virtual collaboration

Doing business in Luxembourg

48 percent of Luxembourg’s population comes from 163 different countries. There are also 177,000 cross-border commuters from neighbouring countries. All in all, 370,000 foreigners work in Luxembourg every day, so that one can hardly talk about “the Luxembourg business culture“ as such.

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Luxembourg companies are usually well structured and organized. Following the German model, there are often extensive administrative processes, and following the French model, hierarchies are strongly differentiated.

The working style prevalent in Luxembourg is often described as a Franco-German mix. The German way of working is experienced by many as very disciplined, everything is carefully planned and worked out in detail. The French working style, on the other hand, is described as more casual with a French laissez-faire attitude. Schedules are made, for example, but are used more as a rough alignment.

A Franco-German mix?

Working in Luxembourg is therefore seen as a golden mean: planning, discipline, accuracy, punctuality and attention to detail are also important in Luxembourg but are not as pedantically followed as in German companies. 

The strong hierarchical orientation of the French, which is followed by an uncommented acceptance of precise instructions and a tendency to little initiative, is also softened by a more relaxed attitude and communication permeable to hierarchies.

What remains, however, is that in Luxembourgish companies, everyone is primarily concerned with their own area. Individual tasks and areas of responsibility are clearly defined. 

It follows from this that it is not appreciated if these limits are exceeded without being asked. Therefore, make sure that you do not interfere unasked in the area of responsibility of a colleague or another manager. Of course, you are welcome to offer your support, but be sure to avoid passing someone over.

Varied understanding of time

A monochronic understanding of time tends to prevail in Luxembourg. Luxembourgers as well as Germans and Dutch prefer a structured approach. Individual steps towards achieving the goals are planned and worked through one after the other. Deadlines are set, which are then met.

If, however, a team consists primarily of members who come from more polychronic cultures, the understanding of time changes accordingly. People from polychronic cultures are used to multitasking; they do many things simultaneously and jump back and forth between tasks. Long-term and detailed planning is therefore quickly perceived as constricting. 

To be on the safe side, always pay attention to the cultural background of your business partners. Know about their communication pattern and negotiation style to be well prepared!

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