Between Imperative and Risk: The Case of Christiani & Nielsen's Market Entry in Norway 1941-45

Steen Andersen

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    While companies from small neutral states are frequently more vulnerable to the risks of doing business with or under dictatorial regimes than are companies from great powers, they are not helpless. This article shows that the strategy that both Danish and Swedish companies selected according to their economic cooperation with Germany and German occupied territories were largely dictated by the choices that were made in the 1930s. The case of the Danish construction company Christiani & Nielsen in the period 1941–1945 shows that Scandinavian companies were not just passive elements in a bigger political game but were capable, to a certain degree, of promoting their own interests. This article reveals that the political imperative is not only a matter of political risk but also of political opportunity. The history of Christiani & Nielsen offers a useful case of the political risks and fiscal opportunities faced by multinationals working in dictatorial settings. This article concludes that, in a choice between a forestalling strategy and an absorption strategy, the latter offers a better way of managing such risks and to minimize exposure. This becomes especially clear in a comparison with Swedish companies.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalScandinavian Economic History Review
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)3-28
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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