The empirical part of this volume is based on case studies of Nordic firms, which entered Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Nordic firms´ trading and investment patterns in Eastern Europe are interesting for several reasons. They are geographically closely situated to the western part of Russia, the Baltic States and Poland. This gives a spation-temporal advantage in business development as compared to most other West-European economies.
This means in a comparative perspective both shorter geographical distance and shorter time to enter many parts of Eastern Europe. This fact gives Nordic companies a comparative advantage in logistics, marketing and management of business relationships. In addition, the Nordic counties have strong historical ties with most of the countries.
More recently, the bilateral trade agreement with the Soviet Union after the World War II established Finland´s position as a strong trading partner through the mechanism of clearing trade (Kivikari 1996, Tervonen 1993). Thus, from the historical perspective, Finland´s role has been somewhat different than is the case of Swedish and Danish companies.
In a network perspective, the historical-political framework contains elements to consider and understand how former links have affected the development of present business in the region. The industrial network approach and learning aspects of business in this transforming environment give new perspectives to real-life experiences of the Nordic firms in Eastern Europe.
The book presents a theoretical framework of entry and development of Nordic companies in Eastern Europe from the perspective of network development and learning. In this sense, it complements theoretical models based on the gradual models of internationalisation and investment in new markets. It also extends network-based and learning research in marketing into the East-European context, which has been quite scarce. Nordic case studies from Finland, Sweden and Denmark form the empirical base for studying the entry process into Eastern Europe through learning and understanding.
The case studies reflect experiences of both small and medium sized companies, as well as of multionationals and form a platform for understanding business development from a comparative and theoretical angle.