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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Spot the Difference

What and where is Scandinavia? Locally, Scandinavia is defined as Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. If one includes Finland and Iceland, it becomes the Nordic region. All five countries have historical and cultural similarities due to their geographical location. However, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark have a strong history of unions and mutually intelligible languages, as well as close cultural ties.

These close ties enable these small countries to create synergies and operate within a bigger market. However, it has not always been plain sailing. Harmonisation within the region has not always been successful, with questions being raised about whether the differences between the countries have been fully considered. When doing business with other regions in the world, one should always be prepared for not only the social and cultural differences, but also the local laws and regulations. Problems tend to occur when they are assumed to all be the same.

Identifying Regional Differences

When combined, many other less formal differences add to the misconception of the Scandinavian region. Country stereotypes exist: Danish decision-making hierarchy, bacon production, love of bike riding, and rye bread. Sweden is known for its democracy, manufacturing the Volvo, its love of meatballs, and IKEA. Norway sits somewhere between the two on democratic rights and decision-making, but they are renowned for their cross-country skiing ability and Viking history. The Norwegians and Swedes are more obsessed with rules, whereas the Danes think these are more ‘open to interpretation’ (although hopefully not when it comes to pharmaceuticals).

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Tórben Thers Nørgaard is General Manager at PharmaLex Nordics. He studied chemical engineering at Danmarks Tekniske Universitet, Denmark, and has more than 20 years’ experience in the medical techology and pharma industry, having worked for Ferroperm, Coloplast, Weltec, ALK Abelló, Jacobsen Pharma, MedTech Advice, and, most recently, PharmaLex. Tórben’s key strengths include leadership, change management, business strategy (building and executing), operational excellence, and cross-functional and cultural collaboration.
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Tórben Thers Nørgaard
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