Finland: The Secret is Out

WorldChanging points us to a Washington Post story about the societal success story that is Finland. Having lived here for going on eight years now, the refrain of outsiders marvelling at Finland's success in business, education, welfare, democratic transparency, etc. has become familiar. I kind of get the feeling that this makes Finns proud and nervous at the same time. Like my fellow Canadians, Finns share a national inferiority complex ("pikkuvelikompleksi") that nevertheless makes us quietly proud when our countries get international attention: "look, they noticed us!". At the same time, we fear what this new attention might bring (change). While the article searches for the secret of Finland's success, Jamais Cascio at WorldChanging rightly points out that much of Finland's success is due to local circumstances that could not be replicated elsewhere. This is the same conclusion John Hatfield in the Sunday Herald reached regarding Scotland's quest to find its own Nokia. While some general lessons can be learned, it is simply not possible to replicate Finland or Nokia's success by exporting its policies.

Canada has its own social experiment going on, and in some areas, particularly multiculturalism, it is ahead of Finland. But for me, Finland and my little northern town of Rovaniemi offer me a better quality of life that I could imagine back in Vancouver, or elsewhere in Canada. So for now, I'm staying put.

Posted on August 10, 2005 and filed under Finland.