Finland vs. Spain - A culture´s comparison and its impact on economy and business

Seminar Paper, 2001

29 Pages, Grade: 2,0 (B)


I. Table of Contents

II. Figure Directory

III. Introduction
1. Basic Overview
1.1. Spain
1.1.1. Land & People
1.1.2. Historical & Economical Development
1.2. Finland
1.2.1. Land & People
1.2.2. Historical & Economic Development
2. Comparison of Basic Cultural Elements
2.1. Cultural Values, Beliefs and Attitudes
2.1.1. Time
2.1.2. Attitudes Towards Law & Government
2.2. Language
2.3. Business Ethics
2.3.1. Individual Actions of the People
2.3.2. Management - Actions
2.3.3. Women
3. The Culture’s Impact on Economy and Business
3.1. Spain
3.2. Finland

IV. Bibliography

II. Figure Directory

Figure I: The Iceberg Model

Figure II: Different perceptions of legality

Figure III: Different information sources for Spain (left) and Finland (right)

Figure IV: Spanish behaviour in business meetings

III. Introduction

The subject of "intercultural communication" is beset a major problem, since there is really very little agreement on what people mean by the idea of culture in the first place. The word "culture" often brings up more problems than it solves. On the one hand, we want to talk about large groups of people and what they have in common, from their history and worldview to their language or languages or geographical location. This common meaning often emphasizes what members of these groups have in common and at the same time plays down possible differences among members. Cultures, however, are large, superordinate categories- they are not individuals.[1]

Hofstede defines culture as “The collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one category of people from another”

A more abstract definition is Halls: “Culture hides more than what it reveals and strangely enough what it hides, it hides most effectively from its own participants.”[2]

To put it in simple words: “Culture is the way we do things around here”.[3]

What culture can be all about is listed below:[4]

- culture influences our behaviour unconsciously
- culture encompasses the “shoulds” and “oughts” of virtually every sphere of a person’s life
- culture is interrelevated, one part of the culture is deeply connected with another part (values, norms, beliefs, morals, laws, etc..)
- culture is learned through socialization / implicit learning
- culture is passed on by tradition and shared by a large group of members
- culture serves a unifying element between these members / elementary derive to discern non- members

Cultural comparisons often start by naming their clichés which often contain a true piece of a culture’s value or attitude. This attitude is exaggerated to underline the normality of a culture one belongs to.

In the following work I will present a research of cultural differences and similarities, primarily giving basic information about the two countries I am comparing.

Since there are a variety of topics about culture which can be researched, seen in the Iceberg – Model below, I concentrated my research only on some topics which I regard as relevant to know in more detail.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure I : The Iceberg Model[5]

A knowledge base will be created for the reader in chapter one, followed by a short overview about different approaches to analyse and categorise cultures and a detailed analysis about differences and similarities in Spanish and Finnish culture, basically according to attitudes, language and business ethics and smaller sub – topics, also found in the Iceberg - Model. The analysis will be guided by Lewis’ approach of categorising cultures.

In chapter three the before mentioned facts about the two cultures will be researched concerning their impact on economy and business.

1. Basic Overview

1.1. Spain

Spanish culture is a rich amalgam of tastes and needs and expressions which make up that rather amorphous concept called "Spain". [6]

illustration not visible in this excerpt

To help understanding cultural aspects better, a basic overview of important data shall be provided before diving deeper into the wide ocean of cultural varieties.

1.1.1. Land & People

Spain is situated in Southwestern Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay, Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, and Pyrenees Mountains, southwest of France. The size of 504,782 sq km includes the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, and five places of sovereignty. Spain has several climates, depending on the region. The coastal regions are moderate during the summer, while in Spain's interior they are clear and hot. Lewis even describes this as "[...]a hot climate which reinforces a tendency towards apathy and inertia where laws and regulations are concerned." Winters are cold in interior and partly cloudy and cool along the coast.[7] Furthermore Spain is divided into 17 autonomous regions each with its own capital, legislature and flag. They have a varying responsibility concerning their authority to raise taxes and enacting regional laws.[8] 40,037,995 people inhabit Spain, 99 per cent of them are of Roman Catholic confession. The division is not equally, coastal regions inhabit more people than inner Spain. Castilian - speaking Spaniards are in the majority and continue to dominate with 74 per cent speaking the language known as Spanish, the rest is divided into Catalan- , Galician-, and Basque - speaking Spaniards. Spain's political system is a parliamentary monarchy, Chief of state is King Juan Carlos I and head of government is president Jose Maria Aznar Lopez.[9]

1.1.2. Historical & Economical Development

Spain's powerful world empire of the 16th and 17th centuries ultimately yielded command of the seas to England. Subsequent failure to embrace the mercantile and industrial revolutions caused the country to fall behind Britain, France, and Germany in economic and political power. Spain remained neutral in World Wars I and II, but suffered through a devastating Civil War (1936-39). In the second half of the 20th century, it has played a catch-up role in the western international community.[10] After 1975 it has undergone a process often called "the Transition", caused by the death of Generalísimo Francisco Franco. Old Catholic Spain, which was mostly dominated from Madrid and bulkheaded from Europe to Africa has been pushed aside. It has not really disappeared but is fairly being replaced by a younger generation which caused not only economy to change but also the Spaniard's cultural attitudes and views. Spain younger generation turned away from a very conservative side with traditional authority systems of bureaucratic families, church and state to a pluralist democracy, membership of the EU which did not really care about typical Spanish taboos like cohabitation, abortion or divorce any more.. They were more concerned about making money since Spain is the fifth largest market in Europe with a growing stock exchange, sharply increasing consumerism and cheap labour, attracting FDI and the "New Economy".[11] Spain's mixed capitalist economy supports a GDP that on a per capita basis is 80 per cent that of the four leading West European economies. The Aznar - administration has continued to advocate liberalization, privatisation, and deregulation of the economy and has introduced some tax reforms in order to push economy from government side. Unemployment has been steadily falling under the Aznar - administration but remains the highest in the EU at 14 per cent.


[1] Cp. Scollon, 1995, p. 125

[2] Cp.

[3] Cp. Weigenand, 2000, lecture

[4] Cp. Weigenand, lecture, 6.10.2000

[5] Cp.

[6] (p.6 Modern Spanish culture)

[7] Cp.; Lewis, 2001, p. 242

[8] Cp. Mole, 1998, p. 74

[9] Cp.; Mole, 1998, p. 7; Lewis, 2001, p. 241

[10] Cp.

[11] Cp. Gies, 1999, p. 5; Mole, 1998, p. 7, 73

Excerpt out of 29 pages


Finland vs. Spain - A culture´s comparison and its impact on economy and business
University of Cooperative Education Mannheim  (Intercultural Management)
Intercultural Management
2,0 (B)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
844 KB
Doppelter Zeilenabstand
Finland, Spain, Values, Attitudes, Culture, Spanien, Wirtschaft, Finnland
Quote paper
David Nowak (Author), 2001, Finland vs. Spain - A culture´s comparison and its impact on economy and business, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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