As a relatively large country (385,199 km2, slightly bigger than Japan) with a fairly small population (a little more than 4.5 million) and a coastline measuring 19,950 km, Norway has always been a world leader in shipping. During the last decades, Norway has also become a major global player in environmental protection, energy management, pulp and paper manufacturing and, because of ample hydropower, also a major producer of aluminium and chemicals.

Norway has entered the 21st century as a lottovinner. Yet there are disturbing signs that the analogy may be too close to reality. Just as some individuals who win a fortune end up rather unhappy, there are also sociological studies suggesting that the more affluent Norwegians get, the less satisfied they are. However, not even this rather typical Norwegian gloom can alter the fact that, in 2005, the United Nations (UNDP Human Development Index, taking into account life expectancy, material prosperity, education, and income per person) ranked Norway for the fifth year in a row as the best country in the world in which to live, and there is every reason to assume that the coming years will deliver exactly the same ranking. This Cultural Detective will help you discover why.

Cultural Detective Norway contains the following stories and critical incidents:

  • Obstacles to Fair Gender Distribution at the Workplace:

    Egyptian executive disagrees with Norwegian criteria for screening job applications.

  • Too Trusting?:

    Italians assess the Norwegian approach to supply distribution as unrealistic and irresponsible.

  • Challenging the Limits of Commitment:

    A Japanese executive in Stavanger fails to motivate Norwegian staff to sacrifice their weekends and vacation time.

  • Does Safety Have to be Unfashionable?:

    French expatriates in Oslo find the Norwegian concern for employee welfare overbearing.

  • How Much is Too Much Supervision?:

    A Norwegian site manager in Indonesia attempts to improve productivity by eliminating supervision of employees.

  • Liberty and Justice for All?:

    US management looks upon the Norwegian approach to improve the lot of the lowest paid staff as both counter-productive and unfair.

Cultural Detective Norway is authored by Anders P. Hovemyr, Bernhard Rikardsen and Dianne Hofner Saphiere.