Caroline Wigren (2003)

The Spirit of Gnosjö – The Grand Narrative and Beyond

This book is about the famous Spirit of Gnosjö, characterising the enterprising and networking culture of a region in southern Sweden. The Spirit is so well-known that it is taken for granted by many as representing profitable businesses that are privately owned, formal and informal cooperation in networks between owner-managers, helpfulness and solidarity between employers and employees, and positive envy among entrepreneurs. This book describes and analyzes these common assumptions about the Spirit, but it also brings the reader beyond its famous face.

A process oriented cultural perspective and three analytical concepts - degree of sharedness, inconsistency, and boundlessness - are applied. The readers are invited to visit four different arenas in the community; the business firm, the multifaceted arena of business related activities, the church, and the local theater association. The four arenas contribute, in different ways, to creating an understanding about Gnosjö and its Spirit.

The stories from the four arenas are analysed, resulting in the identification of three value sources. These are religion, the family, and the heritage of the region. Through these value sources it is possible to understand why people ascribe certain meanings to the Spirit of Gnosjö. Norms and values are identified and the espoused values are contrasted with inferred values, to illustrate the inconsistencies within the Spirit of Gnosjö. Finally, some challenges for the future in Gnosjö are proposed and discussed.