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The benefits of a “Globally Local” Denmark

How authentic integration and internationalisation can help win the battle for Global talent and make Denmark a more inclusive and dynamic society along the way

Author: Thomas Mulhern

Denmark is one of the happiest, if not the happiest country on Earth…or so the saying goes.  This statement is rooted primarily in surveys like the 2017 World Happiness Report, in which Denmark has ranked in the top 3 out of 155 countries the past five years.  Though one could  well argue that that “happiness”, in terms of the self-understanding that underpins the Danish mentality would be better translated as “tilfredshed” or contentness. However, the catch 22 is that the very same individual and societal contentness that is largely seen as a positive metric of success, stands as one of the fundamental barriers to integration and internationalisation efforts and thus, future economic growth here in Denmark. This very same self-satisfaction has too often helped pave the way for black and white approaches within corporate, municipal and school communities; namely providing Expats and global Danes a false dichotomy between assimilation or segregation. In addition, the tendencies of both Expats and Danes to remain in their comfort zones, whether it be linguistically or culturally, have aided in perpetuating this trend.

How can an organisation break out of this black and white mold and create hybrid models that maximize integration and internationalisation efforts? How can an organisation reap the potential benefits of having both Expats and Global Danes (Repats) help to make Denmark a more dynamic society?

Globally Local; launched in December 2017, works within the private, public and education sectors to tear down the barriers that stand in the way of successful integration and internationalisation initiatives.

Why should a company, municipality or school push the boundaries of their comfort zones; think differently, strive to create new systematic approaches within the fields of talent attraction, integration, education and retention?

Companies have the potential to bolster their bottom lines by reducing costs with relation to failed foreign assignments, while simultaneously enhancing the integration of global talent within their organizations through successful diversity management solutions. In addition, the added organizational value that can be provided by employees that have both an in-depth understanding of foreign markets and have cultivated an understanding of the Danish work culture is invaluable.

Municipalities can implement initiatives and establish the right conditions that lead to successful integration and internationalisation strategies.

Schools and Universities, by having the right tools to successfully integrate our two focus groups (Expat and Danish Repat families), have the potential to increase the well-being of their students, parental group, staff and overall quality of the school. This invariably leads to better integration or re-integration and a higher probability of retaining global talent. In terms of adult students and researchers, Danish universities can experience the benefits of having foreign researchers contribute to Danish universities, while decreasing turnover costs associated with shortened contracts.

If attracting, integrating and retaining highly qualified Expat and Danish Repat families has the potential to provide the aforementioned benefits to the Danish society, why should we not attempt to maximize this effort?

Globally Local maintains that by creating shared frameworks predicated upon belonging, for local Danes, Expats and Danish Repats, we make possible the conditions necessary for authentic integration and thus, a feeling of home for Expats and Danish Repats to be a part of. In essence we are talking about creating shared experiences that unite local Danish, Expat and Danish Repat families, promote intercultural exchanges, provide crucial networking opportunities, maintain and develop bilingual Danish and English communication, and allow those in the process of learning Danish to have influence and ignite innovation. If these conditions are met, the barriers to successful integration and internationalisation initiatives can fall away, and Denmark will be left with a more dynamic and competitive country as a result.