Norway is a modern Nordic country that is a neighbor to Russia, Finland and Sweden. The recent estimate puts its population to be about 4.78 million people, who habit in a 1,100 mile in length, thin, and hilly country.
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The extent of its rugged coastline is thrice its length. Although it is currently flourishing in other forms of trade, Norway is a traditionally fishing and shipping country. The country has vast oil and natural gas reserves that have propelled it to its status of financial stability. It is the fifth-largest exporter of crude oil and natural gas in the globe.
Despite the current economic recession, its present unemployment rate of 2.6 percent is one of the least in the globe. Even though it is not a member of the European Union, it is connected to the economic block is by means of the European Economic Area (EAA) accord. This paper analyses the various political and cultural norms and value systems of Norway.
Level of corruption
Among the countries in the Nordic region, Norway is the most corrupt. It is at position twelve in the recent international comparison of level of corruption undertaken by Transparency International (Tisdall, n.d., para. 1). Norway has been sliding in the corruption list since the year 2000 when it was position six.
It is hard to uncover corruption problems in the country since the media or the court hardly scrutinizes them adequately. Evaluation of the real level of corruption in Norway is complex because the individuals involved strive to cover their engagement in bribery and corruption deals. Because of the North Sea oil activity, deduction of the level of corruption is higher in Norway than in the other countries in the Nordic region.
Public contracting of goods and services is the most prevalent area of corruption incidences in the country. Public workers disregard their roles and serve to fulfill personal interests or to satisfy a link of family members and friends. The money that the Norwegian government allocates for aid is another trouble spot as the support often is misdirected and fails to reach targeted area.
A survey carried out by Price Waterhouse Coopers among the top leaders of ninety-five companies in Norway indicated that: “10% of top leaders have been exposed to attempts at bribery/greasing, 60% feel that corruption is necessary to get into markets or to win contracts in developing countries.
Another 40% feel that private companies win contracts in the country as a result of bribery” (Clement, n.d., p. 5). This survey indicates that corruption is not a myth in this developed country. The negative effect of corruption to the Norwegian economy has triggered many companies in the country to be actively involved in fighting it.
Payoffs for entry-business ethics
In Norway, business ethics involves evading breaking the criminal law while carrying out business, evading situations that may lead to civil law suits against the business entity, and evading acts that may impede the image of the company. Business ethics is highly esteemed in the country since it involves loss of revenue and image of the company.
The NHO and the Norwegian companies have teemed up to maintain business ethics in the country. The people of Norway are very transactional and they seldom require long-standing relationship before starting to engage in business transactions. Nevertheless, they have a preference to entering in deals with people they are able to trust. The Norwegians regard informal business style. They are superb time managers who do not need face-to-face interaction before undertaking a business deal.
Generally, they like direct communication based on facts to support the issues raised. They pay close attention to honesty in communication, most of the time to the point of telling their colleagues about the issues they disagree with and they do not feel offended when corrected. A foreigner can easily establish a business enterprise in Norway without going through many hurdles since the business environment is not discriminatory.
One of the main moral challenges for business enterprises in Norway is the complexity of finding a common ground between the profits realized by the business and the varied needs of the workers, end users, and the government.
Multinational companies experience a higher moral challenge since they have to meet both the requirements of their home country and host foreign countries. In Norway, The most devastating harm done to the environment is due to activities of businesses and industries. Most of these industries are the highest consumers of energy, emit dangerous wastes to the atmosphere, and engage in deforestation.
Stability of the political system
The stability of a country’s political system is important because it determines the possibility that the government or bureaucratic inadequacies, societal tensions, inefficient legal structure or international disagreements can result in a drastic drop in the country’s economic development.
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The political condition of a country provides a fertile ground for investment activities. The investment climate in Norway favors economic development since there are minimal instances of political violence, social unrest, and international disagreements.
This is the reason why Norway is a CRT-1 (The Country Risk Tier) country. CRT relates to the evaluation of countries based on three different types of risk:”economic, political, and financial system risk”. Norway has a “predictable and transparent legal environment, legal system and business infrastructure, sophisticated financial system regulation with deep capital markets, and mature insurance industry framework” (A.M. Best Company, 2009, p.1, 4).
Although the country is not a member of the European Union, it enjoys lucrative trade with its neighbors because of its stable political environment. The huge oil reserves and the natural gas resources give Norway its vast wealth. Presently, it is at position five in terms of exportation of oil and natural gas in the world. The government is involved in controlling the oil sector with most shares in Statoil, which is the major exporter of oil in the country.
The low political risk in the country is evident in the country since the government receives 80% of oil profits and channels them to development activities, such as the Norway’s Government Pension Fund – Global. Norway’s political system is stable because there is an efficient international diplomatic connection, the legal structure is reliable, and the economic policies that exist are realistic.
Laws favorable to international business
Norway is one of the most developed countries in the world. Its democratic principles with a strong economy provide a fertile investment opportunity for international business ventures. Foreign capital, skill, and expertise have always formed the bedrock of enhancing the country’s participation in commercial activities.
The good international relationship has increased the country’s economic growth. Even though Norway voted against becoming a member of the European Union, both local and international businesses located in the country have unlimited entry to the market of both the old and new member European Union states.
This is possible through the enactment of the European Economic Area (EAA) accord. Because of the EAA, the country is practically a component of the EU’s common market. Excluding the fisheries and the agricultural sectors of the economy, Norway has less formal prerequisites before starting a business enterprise in the country, and the overall costs are minimal.
The Nordic country has a standard 28% corporate and capital profits tax rate. Added to this is the social security system that grants national health and insurance to the non-employed. Existence of a stable and efficient political system that is ready to adopt business-friendly regulations and the straightforward public sector enhances the ability of engaging in international trade in the country.
Laws are in place to ensure that the branches that carry out financial or commercial trade activities are having the mandate of the Norwegian Register of Business Enterprises (Foretaksregistret). For a foreign business enterprise to have the mandate of carrying out its activities in Norway, careful evaluation to ascertain whether it meets the minimum criteria for business takes place.
The factors mostly considered are the characteristic of the business activities, the length of time the foreign company has successfully undertaken business activities in the country, and the incorporation of the local subcontractors in the company. Other factors include the possibility of presence of other trade agreements with the local corporations or persons, and lastly other business activities carried out in the country (Innovasjon norge, n.d., para. 1-7).
Trade barriers-WTO membership
Although Norway’s market is nearly liberalized in dealing with manufactured products, a number of trade barriers have been put in place to shield the agricultural sector from international competition. The stand that Norway has adopted has been a major source of criticism in the World Trade Organization (WTO) structure.
In the Norwegian economy, 56 percent of the country’s GDP is derived from services sector, whereas oil products and natural gas exports accounts for 17 percent, and agricultural products accounts for about 1 percent. Petroleum and natural gas exports consist of 60 percent of the exports, while another 20 percent and 4 percent constitutes industrial products and fish exports respectively.
Norway is one of the founding members of WTO and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). This makes it to be at the forefront in fighting for market liberalization in the region. Norway grants preferential tariff rates to EEA member countries with an exception in the agricultural sector, which remains highly protected. The tariff rates in the country presently average at about 38 percent as compared to less than 1 percent imposed on industrial products.
In relation to the processed food products, administration of levies is based on their recipes. This regulation demands that the importer must reveal all the products on transit or risk their products subjected to maximum tariffs. The trade rules in Norway are more demanding, for example the non-tariff barriers associated with the endorsement of agricultural goods derived from biotechnology. Generally, Norway is in the process of adopting the European Union trade rules and policies.
The country has an open and transparent market for other goods apart from those of agricultural origin. Most of the standards in Norway are the same as those of the EU, except for telecommunications devices. Nonetheless, there are strict standards for chemicals and foodstuffs with no requirement for the country of origin (The Office of the United States Trade Representative, 2006, p. 480).
The societal class in Norway is based on groupings that are determined by the level of prosperity, earnings, level of education, the type of work, and attachment to a particular subculture or social class. The people of Norway have the benefit of a strong economy with stable socialist traditions in impartial income allocation and liberal welfare spending. Even though the income distribution is relatively even, there are a number of extremely wealthy people. The costs of living in the country are high as well as the standards of living.
The formation of the institution of the family in the Norwegian society occurs when couples gets legally married or are cohabiting (Sture, 2006, p.1). Few people get married during times of financial difficulty since they are unable to meet the expense of the marriage.
The rate at which married couples are getting divorced is two times higher than it was twenty years ago. Current statistics reveal that up to 50 percent of Norwegian children are born out of wedlock. According to the 2009 statistics, the birth rate in the country stands at 10.99 births per 1000 population while the death rate stands at 9.29 deaths per 1000 of the population (Index mundi, 2009).
The number of foreigners who have acquired Norwegian citizenship has doubled six times from 1970 until now. This has lead to the increase in the number of mixed marriages in the country. The majority of the citizens in the country pursue higher education. The education curriculum is such that students undergo ten years of compulsory schooling, and then proceed to various levels.
Norwegians enjoy freedom of religion with different religious organizations present throughout the country. The most common religious affiliation is the state run Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway that has a membership of about 78.9 percent of the residents belonging to it.
The current trend is a shift from the belief of the early Norwegians who had faith in Norse mythology: the Sami manifesting faith in the Shamanistic belief. At about 1000 A.D., gradual transformation of Norway into Christianity began due to the vital role played by Christian missionaries.
The process eventually culminated by 1150 A.D. Before the reformation, Norway was a component of the Catholic Church with the change to Protestantism taking place in 1536. Recent statistics have shown that Islam is now the second most common religion. This can be attributed to the increase in the number of migrants that continually enter the country. An increased number of people currently have no affiliation to any religious beliefs systems. The Jews who have immigrated to the country mostly practice Judaism.
The management of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Norway has continued to be under the jurisdiction of the monarch government after its establishment as the official state religion. The never-ending debate on the division of the church and state has not bore any fruits. The government also gives subsidies to the other religious groups present in the country. The leader of the state church is the Norwegian Monarch. The king appoints bishops and priests who are in charge of the day-to-day running of the church activities.
Norway has danced to the tunes of its Nordic neighbors in maintaining its conventional political structure of a legal hereditary monarchy. The cabinet, which is under the control of the Norwegian Prime Minister, has executive authority. After every four years in September, parliamentary representatives to the Storting are elected. The government and the Storting exercise legislative authority. The Judiciary department is autonomous from the other arms of the government.
The head of the state, the Norwegian King mainly has symbolic authority, while the prime minister, the head of the government, is formally elected by the mainstream in the Sorting before being officially chosen by the king. The prime minister selects his or her cabinet that is comprised of up to eighteen ministers. The nature of administration in the ministries varies regularly with the change in leadership.
During the second time national referendum in November 1994, the country declined EU membership again. The majority of the Norwegians did not consider it beneficial to join the trade block since the country has vast oil resources and has stable links with the EU by means of the EEA. The current government is a coalition amongst the traditional Labour Party, Socialist Left Wing, and the Centre Party.
This historical coalition government came into place after the nationwide election in 2005 and it brought a rare mix of political parties to form the government. The citizens are obliged to abide by the law, which also protects their rights. Impeachment of the government officials often takes place when they participate in alleged criminal activities. Accusations are brought to the notice of the parliament while chosen judges pass the verdict.
In the Norwegian education curriculum, education is compulsory for all kids from 6-16 years of age. The academic year starts from August to the subsequent year in June. The school going children enjoy Christmas holiday from mid December to early January. This separates the academic calendar into two terms.
The education curriculum is split into three categories: “Elementary school (Barneskole, age 6-13), lower secondary school (Ungdomsskole, age 13-16), and upper secondary school (Videregaende skole, age 16-19)” (“Education”, n.d.). Barneskole and Ungdomsskole schooling are compulsory for the first ten years of learning. Presently, the mandatory education starts at age six, while before 1997, it started at the age of seven.
At the elementary school, students go through grades one through seven. Here, they are successively introduced to various subjects in different grades. The students do not get any official grades at this level and their guardians scrutinize the academic exercises. At the lower secondary school, the learners go through grades eight to ten and are at a position to get grades that determine their entry to the next level.
The students are also able to learn various languages. The upper secondary school (same as high school) consists of three years of non-compulsory learning, which is mostly practiced in public schools. The higher education system in Norway lasts for up to three years or longer depending on the course one is undertaking. The universities, university colleges, or various private schools that specialize in various disciplines administer this type of education.
The official language of Norway is the Norwegian spoken by over 99 percent of its citizens. It is a North Germanic language mostly spoken in the country. Alongside Swedish and Danish, the tongue forms a network of related languages in the region. It has been claimed to be “Danish spoken in Swedish” since the language’s vocabulary resembles the Dutch language.
On the other hand, the Norwegian language phonology and prosody resembles the Swedish language. The Norwegian language has two official types: “Bokmal” (Book Norwegian) and “Nynorsk” (New Norwegian)” (Kwintessential, n.d.). All of them are legally recognized, even though the popularity of “Bokmal” is improving among the populace.
Finnish and “Sami” are the minority languages spoken in Norway by 0.2 percent and 0.9 percent of the population respectively. The mode of speaking Norwegian is not standardized and the dialect varies based on geography and conditions. The learning process in schools is carried out in both Bokmal and Nynorsk. The Nordic Council frequently uses the language during their sessions. It is also recognized as an official language when carrying out international business in the Nordic region at no interpretation costs.
The economy of Norway is fundamentally mixed (Encyclopedia of the Nations, n.d., para. 4). Most of the economic policies, especially, the flat income distribution criteria are highly under the control of the government. The state plays a vital management role in running various sectors of the economy, for example the oil sector, communications, as well as the banking sector. The industries and businesses with limited resources get subsidies from the state to ensure their smooth running.
The bedrock of Norway’s economic model is the state’s involvement in the welfare system that re-allocates income by means of taxes. The state also makes every effort to control the rising unemployment levels and create investment opportunities in isolated and marginalized regions. The private sector controls other sectors of the economy, for instance the shipping and the small to medium scale production enterprises.
Even though Norway is practicing social welfare system in its economic system, the country’s tax rates are lesser than the European Union’s documented average. Businesses and their affiliates are liable to remit both income (28 percent which appertains to all forms of income) and capital tax. The country lacks any foreign debt and it routinely allocates part of its expenses to offer assistance to the developing countries as well as giving them loans.
The political as well as the cultural norms and value systems of Norway are exemplary since they illustrate how a modern society should be. The level of corruption in the country is considerably low as compared to other countries. The various stakeholders are also working hard to bring it to minimum, if not to eradicate it.
The Norwegians maintain strong business ethics that ensure that everything runs in accordance to the laid down regulations. The political environment is ideal for doing business since there are no social unrests. The political system also enacts laws that favor local and international business endeavors. Although the country has trade barriers, they only serve to protect its fragile agricultural sector from international competition.
The social classes in Norway are nearly absent since the government practices an impartial income redistribution system through the welfare program. Although the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway is the state run religion, Norwegians enjoy freedom of religion as stipulated by the constitution.
The country practices the monarch form of political governance with the other arms of governance in place to ensure the smooth running of the country. The Norwegian children attend ten years of compulsory education after which they are to decide whether they want to proceed with learning or not. The Norwegian language is the official language spoken in the country together with other minority languages. The country of Norway is generally an economic giant in the region due to its rich political, cultural norms and value systems.
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