The book examines how industrial leaders met the challenge from the democratic movements and how this affected democratisation processes and management models in the Nordic region. The industrial leaders had to develop new kinds of strategies, channels of influence and management styles as a response to the democratic challenge.
In Norway a democratic capitalism emerged where the economic bourgeoisie found itself in a particularly weak position and thereby obliged to legitimise leadership by way of egalitarian and democratic norms and arguments.
In Denmark a petty bourgeois capitalism developed, characterised by a gradual transition from a paternalistic authoritarian system, to a system more based on negotiation and expertise.
In Sweden the industrial bourgeoisie had a stronger foothold. The growth of international corporate giants contributed to giving Swedish industrial leaders a particularly strong position; they were also able to develop political channels affording them influence subsequent to the establishment of democracy.
In Finland democratisation occurred simultaneously with the national liberation. The Russia issue, and tensions between the Swedish speaking and Finnish speaking elite, resulted in a stronger patriotic emphasis on the part of the industrial bourgeoisie. Industrial leaders in Finland were less sympathetically inclined towards the labour movement and other democratic movements than such leaders in the other Nordic nations.