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Author: Alex Kallivroussis

Similar values. Similar culture.

We are so close to each other!

There is a lot to be said for Finnish-Swiss relations! Because according to the World Values Survey, Switzerland and Finland are closest in the world in terms of values and culture.

Similar values form a basis of trust and promote exchange

Perhaps we have all guessed it. There must be something about the Swiss and the Finns that makes them understand and like each other. But we probably didn’t really know. Now, however, there is evidence to show why the Swiss like to watch Kaurismäki and the Finns in Switzerland are not “small-talked”.

The seventh edition of the World Values Survey (WVS) shows that the Swiss and the Finns – although geographically separated – are deep down a nation of sisters and brothers.

According to the WVS, the “measurable” difference between the two cultures is only 0.029 points. In other words, one could say that the cultures differ by only 2.9 %. But where does this value come from? The WVS has been measuring and comparing values and cultures in around 100 countries worldwide for a good forty years. To date, well over 200,000 people have been surveyed on topics such as the environment, family, work, politics, identity or social relationships. The results of the representative surveys are compared with each other and put into context. And this is why we now know why we like each other.

Finns and Swiss can make the leap into the respective other culture easily and with self-confidence.

That is what the wvs shows us.


This knowledge offers benefits

Knowing why you understand and like each other offers many advantages. Because you have reference points you can rely and build on. Both in private and in business.

Privately, the first holiday…

in a foreign country, or the first contact with a foreign speaker, always arouses a little uncertainty. You might ask yourself: What does “Mämmi” have to do with me? Do I have to shake hands in greeting or will a “Moi” do? Do I really have to sit in the sauna for 15 minutes at a time? And how reserved or brash am I allowed to be?

As we now know for sure with the WVS, we as Swiss and Finns can approach each other easily and with self-confidence. Because with our similar cultures, we can assume that we will be understood by the other person and that our needs will be respected. The main thing is that we are honest, brief and clear.

In business, trust is the basis…

for almost everything. And trust is built on values and understanding. And because the time factor always plays a role in business activities, the insights from the WVS are even more valuable here. Because if there is already a good basis for trust per se and a word is a word, then negotiations can be conducted more easily and work can be started earlier. Those who first have to invest a lot of time in establishing a basis of trust usually lag behind the competition.

The fact that cultural values and a desired behaviour of a counterparty cannot be bought or outsourced reinforces the value of this Finnish-Swiss closeness even more. For one thing, as human beings we prefer to work with people we like. That simply leads to more enjoyment in the work and can positively influence a result. And on the other hand, no one wants to build a business relationship that is ultimately based on legal and insurance safeguards.

Both can benefit

There is a lot of potential in this knowledge. However, both countries still make too little use of it. This is also shown by the trade balances and, for example, the fact that gold is the largest export from Finland to Switzerland. There would be so much more that the countries could exchange and where they could mutually benefit from each other! Because products and services from both countries have an excellent starting position in the other market: the brands (brand values) are understood, the companies are trusted – and the high purchasing power of both countries makes it possible to choose the appropriate offers.

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Nokian Tyres – a case story

Nokian Tyres in Switzerland

The “Hakkapeliitta” from Nokian Tyres stands for safety on winter roads. It is a showcase product of Finnish technology. The journey of the Hakkapeliitta from the factory to the end customer is a prime example that shows the importance of cultural similarities. For only when the quality of the tyre reaches the end customer “undamaged” will it be perceived as such.

Sacha Waldvogel answers

On the way to the customer, however, there are supply chains, administrative and legal issues, people and diverse work that demand quality in order to meet Nokian Tyres’ high standards.

In a conversation, Sacha Waldvogel, Sales Manager Nokian Tyres Switzerland, pointed out precisely here the potential of the World Value Survey that shows that the Finns and the Swiss are very close in values and culture. For him, it is a huge advantage in business terms that the Swiss work on an equal footing with the Finns. This includes the high standard of training of all those involved in the process, for example the transport companies or independent garage owners. The care and quality that everyone puts into their work. The professional attitude in administrative processes or the comparable handling of legal issues. The good interaction of all those involved in both countries always ensures that the quality of the Hakkapeliitta reaches the end customer and that a close and lasting customer relationship is established.

We are happy to give you insight in other cases. Feel free to contact us.

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Webinar: Why Switzerland?

Why Switzerland?

Together with Switzerland Global Enterprise and Team Finland, SFB Partners organized a webinar on: why Switzerland is the best location for Nordic companies to expand their business. Tune in for our key-note speakers:

  • Yrjö Närhinen, former CEO of Hartwall and Terveystalo
  • Alexander Brunner, CCO of Utopia Music
  • Jouni Epper, Managing Partner of SFB Partners


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