Scandinavian and The Netherlands in the Creative Top Ten. Why?

Today’s guest post is from Gert van der Heijden, the Executive editor of

I just read the doctor‘s post on Sourcing Innovation (which I translated and posted on which noted that Scandinavia and The Netherlands are leading the world in creativity. The post, which referenced The Global Creativity Index, ranked 82 nations on their alignment between Technology, Talent and Tolerance to determine that Sweden was first, Finland was third, Denmark was fourth, Norway was eighth, and The Netherlands were tenth. While I have to admit that (being a Dutch bloke), as The Netherlands only came in tenth while the real Scandinavian countries were three of the top four, I shouldn’t be too proud of the Dutch, the next thought that came to my mind was the question of whether or not I believed the conclusions were right. So I looked at my field of expertise, the (small) world of sourcing and procurement and discovered these facts:

  • Science: In the Netherlands there are 6 professors in Supply Management
  • Publishing: A significant percentage of the scientific papers for the world wide IPSERA conference on Sourcing & Procurement were from individuals with a Nordic/Dutch background
  • Software: In Europe there are a lot of (e-)Sourcing Software providers, but some of the main players, like Basware and Tradeshift, come from the Nordics
  • Associations: Nevi is the third largest Professional Procurement Organization (after ISM and CIPS) in the world

Does this prove anything? I don’t think it really proves anything, but I have to admit that there should be a good reason why, for instance, our professional development is high in relatively small countries (Sweden 8.9 million, Norway 4.4 million, Finland 5.2 million and Netherlands 16.2 million), compared to surrounding countries that are much bigger (Germany 80 million, France 60 million, Spain 40 million, and UK 60 million).

I see a lot of similarity between the people in these countries in the way we approach our colleagues, our superiors and others. We like to discuss everything and our goal is to get consensus before we act. We like to do things, because we want to and not because our superiors are telling us to. The open, direct and confronting way of doing business and having meetings takes us a lot of time. This really differentiates us from the more hierarchic Germans and the more polite Brits. Therein might lie the difference. The Nordics do not think hierarchically and are more tolerant. So yes, I do believe that a lot of creativity can be found here, but I also believe we need the people in North America to get the work done, otherwise we will just keep on talking in an effort to be more creative.

Thanks, Gert.