is it possible to change the values of a culture?

Yesterday I held a lecture at Etablera, a company committed to inspire and support new entrepreneurs in the province of Gästrikland, Sweden. (Doing constant fieldwork gives good hints about future scenarios.)

Entrepreneurship is a tricky question in Sweden since it is commonly associated with pessimistic assumptions like: an enormous amount of work, complex systems of taxing, expensive to grow, high cost on recruitments, basically a time and money consuming undertaking. In connection a lot of people – especially young ones – lack confidence in their own capacity. Consequently, it’s a lot easier and safer to be employed. This mantra is so common its becoming a part of Swedish culture. Not so good for the local trade and industry.

The other day I read an article by Johan Steal von Holstein, a successful Swedish businessman, reporting from Techcrunch 50, a conference on business growth in San Francisco. He was amazed and inspired by the positive attitude associated with entrepreneurship in San Francisco, reinforcing that everyone could and should succeed. Pretty much the opposite of what he experience in Sweden.

To create an enterprise culture in Sweden, values and attitudes has to change. This is more of a Durkheimian project including tracing hidden social influences on thought, rather than a pinpointing risks, responsibilities and economical advantages.


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