Document Type

Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 5-8-2018

Advisor

Professor Sanford Moskowitz

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to explore the concept of postmodernism as it applies to the innovative process as carried out in the 21st century. In doing so, this study compares and contrasts two countries within a region of the world with differing innovative capacities and then link these differences to their different engagements with the forces that characterize what scholars have terms “postmodernism”. From this study we find that countries that are more closely engaged with these postmodernist forces thrive as 21st century innovators; those that are less engaged –i.e., have trouble transitioning from the old “modernist” ethos—falter as engines of technological change. In order to better understand the innovative structures of these countries, this study compares these countries with two exemplars: Silicon Valley as representative of the new world of postmodernism and New England’s Route 128 (near Boston) as the region too tied to “modernism” and unable to transition to the “postmodernist” mentality, which has left it “in the dust” as a once-promising area that never truly fulfilled its potential. Methodologically, this study probes these themes by exploring how history and culture intersect to create an innovative ability, or lack of, within a country, using Denmark and Finland as examples. AnnaLee Saxenian’s book Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128 compares two regions of the United States and their ability to innovate. The text looks at the nexus of history and culture in the two respective regions of the Silicon Valley in California and Route 128 in Boston. I will be applying the same analysis to the two countries of Scandinavia, discussing the conflict between bureaucracy and egalitarianism. As an academic and business professional, I was motivated to construct this study due to my intrigue of the perplexity of business cultures, aspects of cultural immersion, particularly in Scandinavia, and a need to understand cultural barriers.

The goals of this paper include: documenting cultural differences between Denmark and Finland based on selections of Saxenian’s Regional Advantage and analyzing their effects on innovation in business. Upon analyzing this theory, the intersections of history, culture, and innovation between Denmark and Finland can be compared to the Silicon Valley and Route 128 in the Saxenian Model, proving excellent country cases for showcasing the effects on the innovative competition and growth, and business culture. In turn, this study sheds light on innovation today and suggests the nature in which each respective nation conducts business.

Cultural immersion, primary and secondary research, and interviews are included in the building of this study. Data was collected from a multitude of business forums, supporting data from Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory, guided interviews, and participant observations. The researcher characterizes cultural understanding as a continuous development which only further benefits international relationships and globalization.

Sources and Methodology

This study is composed of both qualitative and quantitative data. I have gathered a large portion of primary and secondary research from Denmark and Finland, having both visited and worked in both countries. I spent my time in Scandinavia exploring culture, history, and business structures through a multitude of interviews with business professionals and those who have worked in the public sector. This cultural immersion has not only inspired this study, but offered a first-hand experiences. I also toured a variety of history museums and art exhibits that shed light on the organizational structures of each country respectively. Other sources include public sources published by the national government of Finland and Denmark, the companies explored in the case studies, and the cultural perspectives of other authors, including Geert Hofstede.

In regards to this study, there are limitations and issues to be explored. The study provides a large amount of qualitative insight into the innovation management processes at company levels and show many interesting perspectives on innovation and innovation cultures in Danish and Finnish context. Generally younger and smaller companies tend to be more open than more established organizations, but due to the limited scope of the study it can be difficult to draw general conclusions on culture structures in both Danish and Finnish companies as such. However, the study sheds light on a number of relevant elements that it would be interesting to study in more depth with the application of other managerial and innovation theories. For instance, the method of studying best innovation practices in Denmark limits the knowledge about challenges with regard to innovation. It would be very interesting to investigate cases in which innovation structures and organizations have failed, and vise versa for Finland.

Another limitation of the chosen methodology is the bias that may be generated by the literary and documentation reading chosen, as well as the possibility of misinterpretation in qualitative data research. But, the data in the study obtained from numerous data sources and we consider our analysis strong due to the relevance and variety of documentation and data for the company case studies. The arguments made illustrate the application of AnnaLee Saxenian’s Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128 of regional culture and the power to innovate in the context of Finland and Denmark.

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