How can your Scandinavian managers be culturally equipped to lead your Asian operation, and how can your company develop local leaders?

By: Alexander Telje, November 2017

Memetor has over many years of consultancy work in Asia gained extensive experience in how the culture of Scandinavian leadership is missing the mark on how to get the most out of their local Asian leadership.

Its more the norm than exception that Scandinavian companies with operations in Asia chooses to employ “their own” leaders to run their operations in locations such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai or Tokyo.

They usually state various cultural, structural and process inhibitors to develop potential local head of operations.

  • Scandinavians are more able to relate to the HQ in Oslo, Copenhagen or Stockholm, to understand the HQ message and bring the right corporate values to the local operation.
  • “For the time being…” the Scandinavian leader has better qualifications and experience to run the local business.

It is, however, a stated task for any new expat to identify local candidates. The business rational for identifying local leaders are that

  • they know the culture better, are more familiar with the geography and have the local network to grow the business even further.
  • financially, it is a significant cost associated with a Scandinavian expatriation, given the need for family housing and international school accommodation.  

Memetor’s role.

There may be a large difference in management philosophy between Scandinavian and Eastern cultures. Memetor works closely with companies and leaders along the following three areas of differences.

  1. Problem solving
  2. How to generate ideas
  3. Individual and group mentality

 Summarized in the following table:

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 15.33.11

Some of the challenges that may occur:

  1. How do you get the best out of your managers when there is a culture of not arguing, being humble and to not contradict authority?
  2. How to achieve local initiative and tap into the collective brain of the organization.
  3. How does the company foster an environment and forums for new ideas and feedback in general?
  4. How can lack of trust be properly addressed?


Memetor has over the years in Asia gained the knowledge and experiences to facilitate processes to address the above-mentioned challenges and may add value in the areas of leadership and alignment of corporate culture & objectives.

We strongly believe that every company is best served to find their “own” innovative solutions to the challenges they face in the marketplace.

What we can do is to facilitate interactive sessions to better align action plans with strategies and imbed cultural values.  

Alexander Telje has been running the Singapore Memetor office for 6 years and has in addition several years of his own expat experience in both Eastern Europe and Asia.