Doing business in India

From the Danish embassy homepage:

The Indian business culture is, in several ways, very different from Danish culture. It is recommendable to invest time and energy in getting acquainted with the Indian business culture and standards of behaviour in order to steer clear of misunderstandings. To acquire knowledge of the local culture also shows respect to the country and sends positive signals to a business partner.

Business practices in India

Meetings in India will generally begin with friendly small talk. This may include personal questions about your family and is seen as a way of building rapport and trust before business. In India, the family unit is highly valued, therefore showing interest and respect towards your Indian counterpart’s family is vital for establishing successful relationships.

During negotiations, trust and well-established relationships with your Indian counterparts must be in place before any form of business can take place.


A great deal of patience is required while dealing with the Indian bureaucracy. It is important to have contacts when something needs to be done quickly. The impenetrable bureaucracy does sometimes lead to corruption. The Indian government is aware of the problem and continually striving to reduce the bureaucracy.

”Bargain hunters”

India is often described as a nation of “bargain hunters”. It is important to be both patient and persistent when one wants to build good relationships and do business in India. It is essential to be aware that, even when severely lacking the skill and experience to fulfil a contract, the Indians seldom say “no” to a deal. The Indian line of reason is that first you make the deal and afterwards you find out how the assignment should be carried out. The Indian businessman often thinks in short term profit.


The Indian standards for observance of time limits in relation to deliverance, clearance of custom, meetings, transport and payment are very different from the Danish equivalents. Indians value punctuality but often find it hard to adhere to. This is partly due to the nature of the country’s administrative and physical infrastructure and partly due to the Indian understanding of time and priorities. It often requires a time consuming adaptation from both sides to attain a consensus about the way to handle different business matters. On the other side, there are of course, many Indian firms who are well aware of European business culture.

As the decision-making procedure in Indian companies is generally very hierarchical, making a decision is often quite time consuming. Indians prefer to discuss all aspects of a matter before a decision is made. It is appreciated that foreign partners respect this.

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