Danish vs. American companies

Spending four months in a country like Denmark was surreal.  Danes have been named the “happiest people on Earth” on several occasions, they have almost no crime, they are completely environmentally friendly, and all of their services are free (upon paying 50% of their income in taxes).

The first thing that came to my mind upon reading the Nike case was the fact Danish would never partake in immoral labor activities like Nike (and other American companies) do.  As my core focus while abroad in Denmark, I took an International Business class.  With this class, I visited several Danish companies in Copenhagen and throughout Denmark.  The one thing that stood out to me at all of these different businesses from different industries (medicine, beverages, etc.) was that they took pride in the fact that even if they used foreign labor, they made 100% sure that the labor conditions were up to par and that the workers were old enough and treated well.

In Denmark, being competitive in any aspect of life is completely taboo; no one is allowed to work past 5 pm in order to eliminate unnecessary competition (a little different from the U.S., huh!?).  Consequently, the workers in different countries try to work longer hours, and the Danish companies do not allow them to do so.

While the U.S. is stronger than Denmark in many respects, it is sad to think that the U.S. is not more like the country in this respect.

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4 Responses to Danish vs. American companies

  1. tpm011 says:

    I don’t think a culture change like that will ever happen. It took the destruction of Europe in both world wars for the culture of Europe to be as relaxed as it is now. So unless something devastating happens that affects our whole country (not an economic meltdown) i don’t see our culture changing anytime soon.

  2. csmb12 says:

    I’ve also got to wonder how that effects Danish companies that are international. Do they tell their international employees to go home at 5pm? If not, then it seems a bit hypocritical. If it is the case, then how can they expect to compete in business environment such as Asia or North America? It seems like this would be a disadvantage to international Danish companies until the whole world changes its culture…something I don’t think is going to happen anytime soon.

  3. Slade says:

    I am also doubtful of such a change happening in the United States. While it must be nice to live happily like the Danes, I think that our competitive nature is a major characteristic of our nation. Much of the technology and a lot of the products that we use and enjoy are the result of the many people who spent those hours working diligently after 5pm, determined to finish a project that would help make our lives more convenient in some way.

  4. tesoman says:

    I wonder how much that has to do with the role of the governments in both countries. I know that not too long ago Denmark, and a lot of countries in Europe, did not have great working conditions, wages, or working hours established. But conditions got to the point that the people of these countries opted to vote for a government that promised to take care of its people and provide the type of working conditions that we see today. Everyone knows how high the taxes are in these European counties, but the taxes help the government provide better conditions for their people; not to mention the great difference in population that has an effect as well.
    In America, governments have never really backed their promises to help the people because they do not have enough power to affect the policies of the companies with strict policies like the way they are able to in Europe. I think that if the rules in Europe were not as strict, companies would try to get away with as much as they could and could possibly incorporate the bad American policies that you’ve mentioned.

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