Abstract: The Institutional Evolution of Business Schools in Finland, 1909-2009

Kimmo Alajoutsijärvi, Kerttu Kettunen, and Henrikki Tikkanen


This paper studies the institutional evolution of Finnish business schools, 1909-2009. When making sense of the evolutionary process, we capitalize on three loosely defined approaches derived from research on business schools: the market demand approach, the national heritage approach, and the professional system approach. The founding of Finnish business schools was largely a response to the economic developments taking place in the industrial, trade, and banking sectors from the mid-nineteenth century onward. Consequently, a rapidly expanding labor market emerged for business school graduates. Due to Finland's close cultural proximity to Germany, the first three decades of business schools were strongly influenced by the German tradition. After World War II, the close connections to Germany were quickly replaced by an American influence. Finally, we make the point that from the professional system perspective, business schools have been successful in incorporating business-related concepts and knowledge into the Finnish language and disseminating managerialism to all sorts of organizations, such as profit and non-profit organizations, and in the sectors of education, government and healthcare in Finland.