Top 5 differences between USA and EU Business Culture

Last updated: 29 September 2023


Some American companies would assume that conducting business in Europe isn't all that different from doing it in the US, but this isn't always the case. This is especially true when it comes to communication, conduct, and ethics.

Having effective meetings across the Atlantic can be a challenge. A little planning can go a long way in enhancing your experience as a European business owner and earning your organization's respect.

Communication in the USA vs. Communication in the EU 


  • The US tends to use direct communication, while European communication is often more indirect and nuanced.
  • In the US, it is common to use more informal language and humor in business communication, while in Europe, a more formal and reserved tone may be preferred.
  • In the US, there is often a greater emphasis on efficiency and brevity in communication, while in Europe, a more detailed and nuanced approach may be taken.
  • European business communication often places a greater emphasis on building and maintaining relationships, while the US is more focused on achieving concrete goals.
  • The US tends to be more confrontational in business communication, while Europeans often prioritize avoiding conflict.


Conduct in the USA vs. Conduct in the EU


  • In the US, it is common to address people by their first name, while in some European cultures, titles and last names are used.
  • In the US, meetings are often scheduled for 30 minutes or an hour, while in some European cultures, meetings may be scheduled for longer periods of time.
  • In the US, it is common to have a specific agenda and stick to it during a meeting, while in some European cultures, there may be more flexibility in the meeting's agenda and direction.
  • In the US, interruptions and speaking over others can be seen as assertive and confident, while in some European cultures, this behavior may be viewed as impolite or aggressive.
  • In the US, there is often a greater emphasis on individual achievement and competition during a meeting, while in some European cultures, there may be more focus on group consensus and cooperation.

    European Team in the meeting


Ethics in USA vs. Ethics in EU


  • The US tends to prioritize individualism over collectivism, while European business ethics often prioritize the common good.
  • European companies are more likely to offer long-term employment contracts, whereas the US places a higher value on at-will employment.
  • In Europe, there is often a greater emphasis on stakeholder management, while the US prioritizes shareholder value.
  • American business culture values competition more than European business culture.
  • The US has a higher tolerance for risk-taking in business, whereas Europe is generally more risk-averse.


Perception of Americans by Europeans 


  • Americans are often viewed as being more assertive and confident in their business dealings.
  • American business culture is often seen as more fast-paced and result-oriented.
  • Americans are generally more direct and open in their communication.
  • Europeans may view Americans as being more informal and casual in their business interactions.
  • Americans are often perceived as being more entrepreneurial and innovative.




When working with a European team, it is crucial to consult each other on what to expect and what the tactical approach should be. The success of the meetings is determined by adjusting communication styles, respecting business conduct and ethics, and appreciating cultural differences during business meetings.

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