Green Tech? Try Green Culture

Chapman University at Central Bank of Denmark

Chapman University at Central Bank of Denmark

At the beginning of this blog, Jeff and I were interested in exploring the prevalence of green technology in Scandinavian businesses. What we found via our travels through Sweden and Denmark is that the mindset for sustainability is not limited to a so-called ‘green-tech industry,’ which is a rather nascent concept in the United States. Rather, the notion of sustainability and the need for corporate governance towards individuals, society and the environment that nourishes us is an all-encompassing mindset that these cultures have developed for decades, if not centuries.

From Stena’s motto of caring for everyone: employee, the public and wildlife alike, to the Danmark National Bank’s understanding and admission that current banking practices are unsustainable in the long term, there is a humility and consciousness in Scandinavia that you would be hard pressed to find in the United States.

Volvo is focused on keeping people safe, so much so that they are targeting an almost impossible fatality/major casualty rate for their vehicles in only 7 years, while also perfecting adaptation of hybrid and electrification technology to achieve rates above 50 mpg for their autos. Saab is now building a new generation of fighter jets that cost billions of dollars less to build, repair and operate than the famously expensive U.S. Raptor program.

Tech startups like Ziggy Creative Colony are working on building an internet that interacts with real things, while tech giants like Ericsson continue to push the boundaries in creating more efficient, dynamic and economical methods for people to communicate with one another. They are also pushing the bounds on everything from human connectivity to what we as a people can gain (aside from the air we breathe) from plugging into trees. In Stockholm, Klarna is streamlining how companies and people pay for things online, mitigating risk and waste and increasing operational efficiency.

Architects around Visby are building homes that do not destroy the landscape by recycling military bunkers from a bygone era, where trenches and shell casings still litter the ground. Such an area that once housed tanks does not even allow cars to travel on its streets any longer; the method of transportation is limited to strictly foot or bicycle. In Gothenburg, some of the largest shipyards in the world have been converted to science parks.

These countries and cultures are not perfect. But this, to us, is a somewhat smarter world, a somewhat better world. It is a world that many around the globe could learn from. As business students, we too often focus on profits and on… profits. But if you cannot look your fellow man in the eye and be proud of what you do, if you cannot look around your cities and wilds and see that your grandchildren will enjoy the same splendors that you have… then how are you really profiting at all?