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Janteloven in Norwegian Business

Jante Law in Norwegian Business

This post is about Jante Law influence on workplace dynamics & business.


It’s important to note that while Jante Law may reflect certain cultural aspects of Scandinavian societies, it does not necessarily define every individual’s beliefs or behaviors. Cultural attitudes can vary, and modern Scandinavian societies have evolved beyond strict adherence to the principles of Jante Law.  Let’s explore what is Jente Law and how it influences Norwegian business culture.

Jante Law, or Janteloven in Norwegian, refers to a cultural concept that originated from a fictional Danish-Norwegian novel called “A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks” (En flyktning krysser sitt spor) written by Aksel Sandemose in 1933. The term “Jante Law” has since been widely used to describe certain cultural attitudes and social norms prevalent in Scandinavian societies, particularly in Denmark and Norway.

Jante Law embodies a set of unwritten societal rules that discourage individual achievement, personal ambition, and standing out from the collective. It emphasizes equality, modesty, and conformity, aiming to prevent arrogance, envy, and a sense of superiority among individuals. 

The key principles associated with Jante Law include:

  1. You’re not to think you are anything special.
  2. You’re not to think you are as good as us.
  3. You’re not to think you are smarter than us.
  4. You’re not to convince yourself that you are better than us.
  5. You’re not to think you know more than us.
  6. You’re not to think you are more important than us.
  7. You’re not to think you are good at anything.
  8. You’re not to laugh at us.
  9. You’re not to think anyone cares about you.
  10. You’re not to think you can teach us anything.

The underlying principle of Jante Law is to foster a sense of equality, humility, and solidarity within the community, where individuals are encouraged to blend in rather than stand out. It can influence various aspects of Scandinavian societies, including social interactions, education, workplace dynamics, and overall cultural attitudes.

What does it mean in business and for business in Norway?

  1. Humility and Equality: The Jante Law promotes a culture of humility and equality in Norwegian society. This means that Norwegians generally value modesty and do not boast about their achievements or display excessive self-promotion. In business settings, this translates to a preference for a collaborative and inclusive approach, where teamwork and collective success are prioritized over individual recognition.
  2. Non-Hierarchical Structure: The Jante Law discourages the establishment of strict hierarchies and power differentials. Norwegian business culture tends to foster a more egalitarian and flat organizational structure. Decision-making processes often involve consulting with employees at different levels, and open communication channels are encouraged, allowing everyone to contribute to the discussion and decision-making.
  3. Focus on Consensus: Building consensus and seeking agreement is highly valued in Norwegian business culture. The Jante Law reinforces the idea that everyone’s opinions and contributions are important, regardless of their position or background. This collaborative approach to decision-making allows for thorough discussions, encourages diverse perspectives, and ultimately leads to well-rounded and well-supported decisions.
  4. Work-Life Balance: Norwegians prioritize a healthy work-life balance and value leisure time, family, and personal well-being. This is influenced by the Jante Law’s emphasis on equality and the idea that no one should think they are better than others. As a result, the working hours in Norway tend to be reasonable, and there is a strong emphasis on maintaining a healthy and fulfilling personal life alongside work commitments.
  5. Trust and Integrity: Trust and integrity are fundamental principles in Norwegian business culture. The Jante Law emphasizes honesty, fairness, and the importance of keeping one’s word. Norwegians value sincerity and expect transparency in business dealings. Building trust through consistent actions and demonstrating integrity is crucial for successful business relationships in Norway.

Understanding the Jante Law and its influence on Norwegian business culture can help international businesses navigate the market more effectively. 

Embracing humility, fostering teamwork, seeking consensus, respecting work-life balance, and maintaining trust and integrity are key factors in building successful partnerships and long-term business relationships in Norway. 

By adapting to and respecting these cultural norms, businesses can establish themselves as trusted and respected participants in the Norwegian business community.


It is easy to say, but in practice might be hard to feel, recognize and act correctly in live situations. 

If you want to consult on your challenges, hear practical examples, our successes and failures press coffee cup on a right 🙂.


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