Entrepreneurship and Local Government Strategies in Finland: A Regional Perspective
Henri J. Vartiainen
The Finnish economy, though buoyant by most Nordic standards, is undergoing a painful restructuring process which has been prompted by slack demand and turbulence. Companies in traditional export industries are experiencing marketing difficulties, and they are revising both their production and marketing strategies. Large companies are laying off employees in order to cope with competitive pressures, putting the onus of employment maintenance on small companies and new establishments. Many industrial localities, which have traditionally counted on only a few large employers, are awakening to these grim realities.
All of these experiences have led to a reassertion of the importance of local and regional economies. Their role is particularly relevant in the creation of employment--a challenge too great for conventional fiscal measures. Encouraging local and regional initiatives, entrepreneurship, and self-employment is thus an essential element of structural personnel policies in Finland.
The increased economic activity of local governments is the result of these developments. It can take the form of direct or indirect participation in local and regional initiatives. New ways of cooperation between the government and the business community have evolved. Limits set by legislation to participate in economic activities are also being explored.
Similarly, district administrations of the central government charged with employment issues pay more attention to local and regional conditions and projects. The relative weight of national policies and local strategies has shifted in favor of local initiatives. This activity has emphasized the growing importance of regions in Finland. Entrepreneur-