We Have Supply Management Problems. Where Will We Find Solutions?


That’s right, Scandinavia! Apparently.

According to the Global Creativity Index, put out by the Martin Prosperity Institute* and published in 2011, Sweden takes first place, Finland takes third place, Denmark takes fourth place, Norway takes eighth place, and the Netherlands takes tenth. The U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore round out the top 10, creating North American and Australasian pockets of creativity, but most of it is centered in Scandinavia. (And that’s likely why Spend Matters is expanding into The Netherlands. They’re hoping to tap into that creativity that huge pocket of creativity.)

The report, which takes the three main classes of economic inputs — Technology, Talent, and Tolerance — attempts to go beyond simply ranking the 82 nations considered in the study and shift the classical focus on competitiveness and growth (which resulted in the pursuit of short term profits to the point where some of the world’s most advanced and affluent economies reached the brink of collapse) to creativity, prosperity, and well-being. As a result, in addition to the classical measures of economic growth and competitiveness, the research also takes into account broader measures of economic equality, human development, and subjective well being.

Classical economists, who followed in the footsteps of Adam Smith, may have believed that economic development came down to land, labour, and capital, but physical factors alone no longer determine progress in
today’s modern, advanced economies, where factors like technology, innovation, knowledge, and human capital play much greater
. And creativity underlies all of these factors. Also, as the report points out, everyone is potentially creative. But not everyone produces creativity. A lot of this depends on the tolerance of the culture in which they live. New ideas are generated most efficiently in places where different
cognitive styles are tolerated — and different cognitive
styles are linked to demographic diversity
. It’s important to remember that, in today’s world, technology and talent are mobile and tend to flow to areas with the most tolerance.

What’s interesting to note is that leadership in any two measure is not enough to guarantee leadership across the board. Finland is first in Technology and talent, but 19th in tolerance, and thus lag Sweden by 3% in the index, putting them in third place. Canada, which is first in tolerance, is in seventh place because it’s eleventh in technology and seventeenth in talent. The United States maintains it’s second place position because it manages to maintain a ranking in each category that is top ten, giving it a narrow margin over third place Finland. Sweden is number one because it maintains the best overall balance, second in talent, fifth in technology, and seventh in tolerance (and since it maintains the best balance, people and technology are unlikely to flow out of the country).

So what does Scandinavia have to offer us? That’s a very good question. While SI knows there is a lot of innovation and creativity coming out of Europe in Supply Management, it has to admit it wasn’t expecting the creativity to be centered in Scandinavia. But it does explain why if you are seeking spherical supply solutions that you will succeed in the EU.

The Martin Prosperity Institute, directed by Richard Florida, author of Who’s Your City (referenced in SI’s series on Where Should Your Supply Management Organization Be Located), is the leading think-tank on the role of sub-national factors in global economic prosperity.