Fear, Job Security, Creativity, The hierarchy of needs by Maslow, Finland, Nokia

The recent post by Dr. Mihaela Vorvoreanu and the following discussion by Xin Cindy Chen evoked an idea inside me.  And I would like to share it others to enable more thinking by group interaction.

For a few years, I was constantly monitoring the Finland.  An interest to the Finland is not uncommon in South Korea.  Since the interesting result from PISA was published, there is many buzz about Finland with many books, TV programs.  Anyway maniac interest to the education is one typical characteristic of Korean.  Many comparison has been made between Finish and Korean education system.  The majority of the idea was we have to learn Finish system, which encourages voluntary participation in students.  Anyone who has experience in education will understand how hard to have a voluntary and participatory students.

Even though I totally agree with the finish education philosophy, my main view had a slightly different perspective.   I was looking at the Nokia.  For many reasons, Finland is similar to the S.Korea and different from Sweden or Norway, where there is proliferate natural resources like oil.  They were poor before Nokia became so successful.  And the welfare costs money.  The famous welfare system and high income of people in Finland requires constant stream of the money outside the Finland, where Nokia could serve.  Really bad way of explaining this is, the Indian Bus driver and Finish Bus driver does almost same thing.  However the high paying Nokia employee gives their money to the Bus driver.  So that’s why Finish drivers earn so much better.  However as people talks about the wonderful success story of the Apple, there is sad failure story of the Nokia.

So it was the background.  Now as the Nokia declines and with the world economic crisis, I was studying Finland about how they react.  Do they fail like that the welfare reside with the increasing neo-nazi?  How they react to the this challenge?

Well before I proceed with my judgment about their reaction, here is anti-dote.

– I am an outsider of Finland economy with superficial understanding

– The Finish economy is large thing to judge and even this financial crisis is not yet ended

Anyway here follows my judgement.  Many people left Nokia, and began their own company.  Some failed while some succeeded.  Some even say that this is even better situation for Finland.  For it reduces a systemic risk, by not relying on a single component.

You may check this yourself from the experts.


Financial Times

Business Week


Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

This is the half of the my blog post.  I am sorry it becomes so long.  I will try to be short in the following argument.

Why many people can leave the Nokia without fear?  Because there was social security that supports your minimum living that includes healthcare, cost of living, and education.  So they could pursue their motivation without worrying that your family will suffer.  I will call this as motivation-driven society.  And what is the opposite of motivation-driven society?  Well it is the fear-driven society.  This society moves with its own mechanism that if you don’t work hard, you will suffer inhumanely.  As with everything in the world, it is prudent to say even fear-driven society has its own place with own strength and weakness.

One way of explaining relationship between the motivation-driven society to the fear-driven society is using the hierarchy of needs by Maslow.  He categorized human needs up to 5 to 7 level:

1. Biological and Physiological needs

2. Safety needs

3. Belongingness and Love needs

4. Esteem needs

5. Cognitive needs

6. Aesthetic needs

7. Self-Actualisation needs

The fear for the job security lies in the between level 1(physiological) and 2(safety), depending on the welfare.  Actually it can be elevated more but then it changes from fear to the motivation.  Using this diagram, my conclusion is that Finland is successful even with the failure of Nokia, for it provides its member a basic social safety so that its member can pursue higher needs without fear.

I think this explains a little about the comment by Dr.V that even US is not satisfactory in tolerating failure.  I agree.  US is good while Finland is one of best, while Korea needs more.

And one last comment for the Xin Cindy Chen.  I think there is more failed creative people than successful creative people.  The question is not whether it is required for being successful but whether it is worth trying.  Everybody dies.  It will be nice, if we can contribute to our society and leaves a honorary name for it.  It is highest level of the needs.  The problem is at some society lower needs are already given that we can focus on the higher level while at some society, we can’t ignore lower needs.


4 thoughts on “Fear, Job Security, Creativity, The hierarchy of needs by Maslow, Finland, Nokia

  1. I am really enjoying this conversation and seeing you and Xin so thoughtfully engaged with it. You make a very good point about a system that provides sufficient safety so that people can afford to take risks. It is true that in the United States the risk is huge – if you fail, you fail hard.

    I have been thinking about this only in the context of the educational system – and trying to figure out ways to allow students to fail without much risk. Thank you for pointing out how at the societal level innovation can be related to the social system.

  2. Thank you for replying my comment so thoughtfully! I definitely agree that a system allowing for failure could foster more creativity and innovation, but I’ve been having the feeling that sometimes a society that tolerates failure is really difficult to be distinguished with a society that allows laziness and irresponsibility. Is this a dilema or is there a way to work things out to provide people safety and failure tolerance but to not allow laziness at the same time? I feel this maybe easier at a smaller scale, but it could be difficult at the societal level.

    • Wow, you just makes me think.
      Here is quick thoughts on your nice question. It is not the ultimate answer. It is just a seed for growing.

      How can we provide people safety and failure tolerance but to not allow laziness at the same time?

      1. “Who does” is more important that “How to do” or “what to do”. I believe there is degree of citizenship which should be cultivated by education and community. If we copy every system from Finland and paste it to “Korea”, it will not operate as it originally did. So we have to focus on teaching the younger generation about it.

      2. We should not allow immigration for cheap labor. I know that it sounds like extreme right view. But it is the irony of life.

      3. Begin with the education to help them find their own motivation and trust each other for cooperation. End with the high level of tax. High level of tax means there is high level of trust. I think “trust” is an important concept which needs more thinking.

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