Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 127, Issue 1, pp 65–85 | Cite as

Scandinavian Cooperative Advantage: The Theory and Practice of Stakeholder Engagement in Scandinavia

  • Robert StrandEmail author
  • R. Edward Freeman


In this article, we first provide evidence that Scandinavian contributions to stakeholder theory over the past 50 years play a much larger role in its development than is presently acknowledged. These contributions include the first publication and description of the term “stakeholder”, the first stakeholder map, and the development of three fundamental tenets of stakeholder theory: jointness of interests, cooperative strategic posture, and rejection of a narrowly economic view of the firm. We then explore the current practices of Scandinavian companies through which we identify the evidence of relationships to these historical contributions. Thus, we propose that Scandinavia offers a particularly promising context from which to draw inspiration regarding effective company-stakeholder cooperation and where ample of examples of what is more recently referred to as “creating shared value” can be found. We conclude by endorsing the expression “Scandinavian cooperative advantage” in an effort to draw attention to the Scandinavian context and encourage the field of strategic management to shift its focus from achieving a competitive advantage toward achieving a cooperative advantage.


Cooperative advantage Scandinavia Stakeholder theory Strategic management Sustainability Creating shared value 



We thank the students of the University of Minnesota’s IBUS 6315: “CSR: A Scandinavian Approach” and IBUS 6316: “Sustainability and Cooperative Advantage in Scandinavia”, the students of the Copenhagen Business School’s BLC 3CSR: “Sustainability and CSR in Scandinavia”, Rolf H. Carlsson, Marianne Barner, Susanne Stormer, Mette Morsing, and the three anonymous reviewers for their most helpful input. Support was provided in part by the University of Minnesota Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Copenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksbergDenmark
  2. 2.University of Virginia Darden School of BusinessCharlottesvilleUSA

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