An Excursion in Review: A Global Perspective

Scandinavia had so much to offer and so much to learn from. Nowhere was this more obvious than the unique cultural perspective imparted on the companies that grow directly from Scandinavian soil. Every business we visited, from naval defense contractor Saab – Kockums to conversion rate optimization group Conversionista, each company had a Scandinavian flair that set them apart from others. I would say that this quality directly translates to a competitive advantage on the global stage and arises directly from the culture and values from which these companies have developed and are translated directly into business practices that prioritize such principles as egalitarianism, employee dignity, and shared work ethic bordering on pride (only don’t let them catch you speaking of pride for after all, the tallest dandelion gets cut down first).

It is very difficult to articulate this difference in concrete terms other than by noting some industry jargon about the observed characteristics of these entities (e.g. flat organizational structure, social responsibility, etc.). However, the causes of these organizational characteristics are steeped in the particular history, and overlapping cultural context of the countries we visited. With our introduction to the Nordics focusing on the extremely high levels of happiness and personal satisfaction through the GCI and WDI indices, it is evident that Scandinavia has some quality that others would like to emulate, and while it is relatively easy to observe the effects of a fulfilled population, it is much harder to point to a specific root cause and how that could be transferred or imitated in American businesses, or if such a thing is even possible. One of the most telling personal observations I had was that while it would be hard to replicate the atmosphere of many of these companies in the US, Scandinavia certainly seemed to be a place I wouldn’t mind living and working in.

The course was an overwhelming success and fulfilled every objective I set out with as well as some surprising chances to learn about topics that I had not considered from the outset of the trip. Perhaps one day we will have the privilege of visiting again, although hopefully for longer.