Doing business in Switzerland

During the first business meeting, Swiss expect a well-prepared, detailed presentation. In depth questions and topics are frequently discussed and evaluated at a very early stage.

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It is therefore important to bring in representatives who can explain facts. Swiss are reluctant to take risks, which is why they arm themselves with information before they even consider a joint business venture.

In subsequent meetings and negotiations, Swiss mainly strive for courtesy and consensus. Their negotiating style is methodical and analytical, so factual and confrontation-free discussions are necessary.

Striving for a compromise

Consequently, Swiss are more inclined to seek a compromise on different views than to take a hard position until discussions have been completed. Those participating in a meeting or a negotiation are usually highly expert. Therefore, a number of experts may be invited to the meeting solely to provide input on their particular specialty. It is rare that a general representative takes the lead in all negotiations.

Despite a generally high level of competence, Swiss are extremely modest in meetings and negotiations, and do not take themselves too seriously. Demonstrating one’s status is almost unknown here. They expect understatement and restraint from their business partners as well.

Decision-making within the company

Similar to the Swiss state system with its comparatively independent cantons and various referendums, strong decentralisation is also practised in companies. The hierarchies are flat and the grassroot levels have relatively high decision-making powers. As a rule, there are many operational units. Each carries responsibility for certain tasks. There is a tendency toward egalitarian principles and consensus such that top-level management finalizes all decisions, but only after they are jointly agreed on by several representatives of different departments. This process may take some time. However, once decisions have been adopted, there is total commitment to them which in the end can speed up the overall project because there will be no renegotiations or second-guessing.

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First business meeting in Switzerland

Communication in Switzerland

Meetings & presentations in Switzerland

Business meals and after work in Switzerland

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