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Cultural competence in the business world: a Finnish perspective

Markku Wilenius (Professor at the Futures Research Centre at the Turku School of Economics and Business Administration in Helsinki, Finland.)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Article publication date: 1 July 2006




The idea of the paper is to define the concept of cultural competence and to explore what is the role of cultural competence in today's world of business. The hypothesis of the project was that the interaction between business and culture is a neglected and poorly understood field of business creation. On the other hand, eminent authors like Richard Florida have recently strongly brought up the topic of creativity as a source of competitiveness.


Finland is used as a case object of case study. The methods used to gather empirical material include expert interviews, workshops and Delphi‐queries. In total, over 200 experts from business, public administration and different fields of cultural production were involved in the study.


The analysis of the material showed that there are many ways in which business may take advantage of collaborating with cultural actors. First of all, there are things that involve or aim at strengthening, changing or developing the corporate image. A corporation can thus look to cultural actors for elements to develop their brand, by borrowing the actor's face or work for advertising, for example. Cooperation with cultural actors can also be justified for corporations in the form of work with interest groups, such as investors, the media, political decision makers, administration and pressure groups. Cooperation can also be a form of shouldering social responsibility, bringing important goodwill with it. A company can seek cooperation also for internal reasons: culture is used as a way of motivating staff and developing creativity.

Research limitations/implications

For the future, more concrete analysis is needed in terms of finding out what kind of results cooperation between business and cultural sphere may bring about.

Practical implications

The implication of the paper is that both businesses and cultural actors and institutions should be more open‐minded for collaboration and finding out true win‐win processes.


What is new in the paper is the way by which author treats the topic in the fashion that shows the possibilities how a single, rather technologically orientated country may find new prospectives for broadening its scope of international competition.



Wilenius, M. (2006), "Cultural competence in the business world: a Finnish perspective", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 43-49.



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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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