Working With Norwegians

Corporate Ethics in Norway

When asked about conflicts of interest John Doerr, a famous American venture capitalist, once reportedly replied:

“Well, no conflict, no interest”.

If his firm did not have a conflict or an unfair competitive advantage, they really had no interest in the deal. This simple and short statement well encapsulates the American ‘win at all costs’ attitude you find in some industries.

Businessmen and women in America like myself hear these war stories throughout their careers, along with grand tales of fortunes made by bending a few both ethical and legal rules.

This is not the case in Norway.

Breaking the rules, especially in business, is not common in Norway. Those that do, regardless of the outcome is positive for their business, quickly lose respect in the public eye. The press seems also to take great pleasure in hanging those who do so out to dry.

Unlike in America, you’re not likely to get a second chance when your bad behavior becomes known.

The Norwegian’s memory of such bad actors lasts for as long as the fjords are deep…