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The Nordic Countries: Cultural Values

What is your first association with Scandinavia? The earliest thing that comes to mind is that everyone must be cold; however, very few people are educated in this region’s cultural values. The Nordic region countries include Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden and are often associated with utopian life. These regions often top the lists of the most comfortable places to live, which is a result of centuries of cultural values perfection based on sustainable relationships to nature, gender equality, and social solidarity (Sandberg, 2019). Therefore, looking into the Nordic countries’ cultural values would simultaneously become an investigation of their evolution.

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The first point, which I would like to elaborate on, is the Nordic culture’s context, which is identified to be low. Scandinavian countries are known to be one of the most progressive ones; therefore, transparent information delivery is one of the primary cultural principles. Moreover, one of the five Nordic values states the importance of openness in media, where society has free access to each piece of information (Happy Nordic Day, 2019). Government structures are also uncorrupt and free of bureaucracy, which identifies the Nordic culture’s low context. Everyone is used to openly share their personal opinions without being discriminated against. Hence, the establishment of Nordic values significantly increased citizen’s quality of life.

In terms of communication, Scandinavian countries prevalently express collectivistic values. The leading indicator of such a tendency is a people-oriented structural organization. Within the institutions, collectivism is defined by a visible interdependence among individuals and a strong influence of labor unions (Warner-Soderholm & Cooper, 2016). However, in terms of personal relations and communication, Scandinavian culture expresses individualistic tendencies. Scandinavian people think that a person must look out for their own interests and individual freedom by working collectively with others. Hence, it is fair to conclude that Nordic culture is mixed in terms of social interpretation combining collectivistic and individualistic features.

Power distance is an identification pointing out the level of hierarchy in the specific culture. Scandinavians have low power distance, characterized by independence in the workplace, and using hierarchy strictly for convenience (Culture and Workplace Values, 2018). This society highly values equal rights and lives up to these concepts in each organizational structure. In terms of the corporate culture, the power is usually decentralized, with an informal attitude towards all the workers. There is little use of formal titles in the Nordics, and casual dress codes are prevalent in the workplace, clearly identifying low power distance. Such indicators prove low power distance as the core of Scandinavian cultural values.

The next factor of the cultural value analysis is the masculinity or femininity of Scandinavian society. Nordic people highly value relationships and their quality of life over materialistic gaining and competitiveness. Such people-oriented feature indicate the femininity of this culture. Moreover, the fact that Nordic countries often score among the highest in life satisfaction proves this statement’s truthfulness. Such characteristic is also interrelated with power distance, which, as previously mentioned, has low to none hierarchy and very informal in terms of work relationships. In terms of conflict, Scandinavians are known for their passion for compromising and holding long discussions until both sides are satisfied. Therefore, societal solidarity, sympathy, and inclusion are the primary identification of the Nordic feminine society.

The femininity of Scandinavian culture consequently makes it cooperative, as these two factors are interrelated. Most importantly, the imperative identification of the collaborative feature is the Nordic Council, the oldest and strongest regional cooperation globally (Happy Nordic Day, 2019). This governmental structure operates in a legislative form, ensuring equal and free rights of the Scandinavian citizens. Because of an increasing approach of focusing on cooperative achievements, the recognition is usually expressed towards teams rather than individuals. Therefore, cooperation is the main form of societal structure among the Nordic citizens, emphasizing the team’s contribution over the praise of personal earnings.

Fascinatingly enough, but Nordic people do not like to talk. Scandinavian culture is known to be the most reserved and quiet nation of all. This culture state’s unspoken social norm is to keep voice on the low in public places; even honking the horn would be perceived impolite unless it’s a life-threatening situation. Scandinavian countries do not favor excessive talking or chit-chatting; they usually speak on essential topics rather than everyday chores. Such cultural features are a matter of climate or low population density and a culturally formed sign of respect towards others (Shhhh… It’s all so quiet in the Nordics!, 2019).

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When talking about uncertainty avoidance, which refers to how people perceive the unknown future in society. Nordic people show a medium rate of attitude towards uncertainty, despite high life satisfaction rates (Culture and Workplace Values, 2018). Such indicator explains that Scandinavians favor long-term planning; thus, do not exclude possibilities of altering them. Additionally, people with such an uncertainty rate are relaxed and do not prefer talking, which was already previously determined. Most importantly, Nordic people are always favorable to innovation and open to new experiences.

Hence, to conclude the speech, the Scandinavian culture is unique in all its forms, distinct from most other world cultures. Their climate and governance, in many ways, shaped the cultural values of these countries, which eventually transformed into a written document. In terms of verbal expression, Scandinavians are not the best conversation supporters and prefer to talk on more substantial matters. Their social norms include respect towards others through silence, which is a unique cultural feature. The collectivistic tone of work and the team’s recognition rather than the individual signify nonverbal cultural norms. Therefore, the Scandinavians’ national cultural values reflect their citizens’ individuality and express the centuries of country establishment.


Culture and Workplace Values in Switzerland and the Nordic Countries. (2018). Norgesklubben Sveits.

Happy Nordic Day with the 5 fundamental Nordic values. (2019). All Things Nordic.

Sandberg, M. (2019). A Cultural History of Nordic Values : Department of Scandinavian, UC Berkeley. University of California, Berkley.

Shhhh… It’s all so quiet in the Nordics!. (2019). All Things Nordic.

Warner-Soderholm, G., & Cooper, C. (2016). Be Careful What You Wish for: Mapping Nordic Cultural Communication Practices & Values in the Management Game of Communication. International Journal of Business and Management, 11(11), 48.

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