Which Countries Are Losing Their Innovation Capabilities?

by Stefan Lindegaard

Denmark losing to China and others?I recently discovered reasons to take my innovation perspective to a national rather than a corporate level. The questions that went through my mind were like this:

  • What if the behaviours of the citizens in a country determine the corporate ability to innovate?
  • What if such behaviours directly hurt the corporate ability to innovate?
    • A capability that is so important for the future of companies as well as countries.

  • Or what if the behaviours hinder the chances of taking innovation to the next level?

The country I have in mind is my own, Denmark. I have long argued that Denmark does very well on innovation. Danes believe in flat hierarchies and that authorities and common beliefs should be challenged.

This is a good outset for innovation and we have always been pretty good at taking existing technologies or ideas, give them a little twist and then come up with new ways of using this.

This has worked very well for many years, but things are changing so fast and innovation is becoming an open and global process. Being open to new input and being tolerant towards other cultures and perspectives are keys to future success.

Personally, I travel a lot and I try hard to stay open to other cultures and perspectives. However, I might not be as open-minded as I think I am and perhaps it is even worse with many of my countrymen. I was told this by a German friend who has lived in Denmark for many years. Danes are not open and tolerant. On the contrary, Danes are viewed as being quite self-sufficient.

My German friend made me think and I now begin to see some answers to questions that have puzzled me for a while.

  • Why are Danish companies not on the forefront of open innovation?
  • Why do Danish media not cover open innovation better than they do?

I have always believed that Denmark has all what it takes to benefit from the shift towards open and global innovation. Could I really be so wrong? I am sad to say, but I think this is the case.

Nevertheless, I want to thank my German friend for opening my eyes and getting a new perspective on open innovation. This also raises other important questions.

  • Which other countries stand to lose just as Denmark might do?
  • Which countries stand to win on this?

I view countries such as France, Italy and Japan to be quite inward-focused. Will they lose out on innovation? If my perspective on this holds true, the U.S. definitely will be a winner. China? Not sure. They have a little of everything in them, but I believe they will come out as a winner as well.

Enough for now. Your thoughts?


Stefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation.

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