Working in Austria For Members

What is the 'friendship economy' in Austria and how does it work?

Hayley Maguire
Hayley Maguire - [email protected] • 7 Dec, 2022 Updated Wed 7 Dec 2022 16:52 CEST
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Sometimes in Austria, it's not about what you know, but who you know. (Photo by fauxels / Pexels)

The so-called 'friendship economy' in Austria impacts many aspects of daily life, from getting a job to securing a dream apartment. Here’s how it works and why it might be changing.


Ever wondered why some people in Austria easily walk into a great job? Or manage to get the sought-after apartment in the right location?

Well, it might be down to the ‘friendship economy’ (Freunderlwirtschaft). Or, as the saying goes, “it’s not about what you know, but who you know”.

Here’s what it means in Austria.

FOR MEMBERS: How much do you need to earn for a good life in Austria?

What is the ‘friendship economy’?


The ‘friendship economy’ involves the use of personal contacts to access opportunities, like a job promotion or a salary increase. 

According to the latest Global Corruption Barometer by Transparency International, 40 percent of people surveyed in Austria admit to using personal networks in this way. Whereas the average among EU states is just 33 percent.

However, the tide might be turning as more people in Austria put a higher value on correct behaviour – especially in the workplace.

A recent study by Austrian job portal Karriere found that half of all those surveyed would not apply to a company if the management did not act with integrity. This came above issues like equal opportunities, diversity and sustainability.

Georg Konjovic, CEO at Karriere, said: “People want to work in companies that take their social responsibility seriously. 

“This applies to the ecological footprint, dealing with minorities and the management culture in the company. Anyone who does not actively address these issues will lose their attractiveness as an employer in the long term.” 

READ ALSO: ‘Bad-tempered locals’: Vienna ranked the world’s ‘unfriendliest city’

How corrupt is Austria?

The Global Corruption Barometer shows 29 percent of people believe corruption has increased in Austria.

The results also show nine percent of public service users in Austria say they paid a bribe in the past 12 months to get what they want. However, across the EU, three in ten people admitted to paying a bribe or using a personal connection to access public services.

Furthermore, business executives are believed to be the most corrupt in Austria (according to 24 percent of respondents), followed by bankers (20 percent) and the leader of the country (15 percent).

This article previously stated the percentage of people paying a bribe in Austria was higher than the EU average. It has now been corrected.



Hayley Maguire 2022/12/07 16:52

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