Nokia’s Cultural and Creative Leadership

Nokia is a Finnish corporation with its headquarters in Helsinki. The business was the largest participant in the manufacturing industry of mobiles. The mobile phone market, on the other hand, experienced a significant transformation in the early 2000s (Sulphey, 2019). At the forefront of this revolution was the creation of touch screens and smartphones, both of which Nokia was not manufacturing at the time of the revolution. The entry of Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc. into the smartphone manufacturing industry resulted in Nokia losing its status as the market leader in mobile phones (Lamberg et al., 2021). When Nokia saw this, they replied by producing the Windows phone, which was a sophisticated device. The corporation abandoned the mobile phone industry in 2014 because the firm was generating losses. The company made a number of significant moves to redefine itself, whereby a portion of Nokia Devices was sold to Microsoft Corporation. This study focuses on Nokia’s cultural and creative leadership in relation to relevant theories and perspectives.

Creative Leadership

The Nokia leadership sees the transformation as a means of concentrating on an area of business in which they have strong core skills and where they expect to achieve high levels of profitability. According to the company’s change management team, the process was incremental because the firm had already established operational agreements with networking equipment suppliers such as Siemens. Through the transformational theory of leadership, it was felt by the leaders that the change was necessary (Jensen et al., 2019). It was becoming increasingly difficult for the company to maintain its stock price stability, and the change, according to the change leaders, was necessary to create value for shareholders.

Therefore, Nokia has gone through several changes from transactional, transformational, and participatory leadership styles, respectively, focusing on the shift from traditional organizational approaches to human relation approaches. The human relation approaches are based on contingency or situational theories of organizational change and management (Shafique & Beh, 2017). Additionally, the rationale for this transition is that human relations techniques are more flexible than rigid, reflected in their approach to conflict.

Contingency management is dependent on the contingency theory of leadership and management, which is a theory of uncertainty. When using the contingency strategy, leaders utilize a variety of leadership styles at various times (Klemm, 2017). This type of leadership is dictated by the nature of the task performed in an organization. Additionally, the level of talent possessed by the personnel determines the leadership. The leaders make a connection between their effectiveness and the environment in which they operate (Luomalahti, 2017). Depending on the situation, the contingency method may motivate a leadership transition. This is because the leadership style is built on the belief that every company is different; hence there is no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. The strategy helps managers to be dynamic in their leadership, enabling them to tackle each scenario differently, resulting in increased employee performance.

In order to be flexible in their leadership style, leaders must be result-oriented and not be constrained by procedural or regulatory requirements. They must be free to change tactics to achieve the ultimate goal of achieving the established targets. Flexible leadership contributes to enhanced efficiency and effectiveness, which in turn leads to a rise in productivity inside organizations. Since its founding in Finland, Nokia has undergone significant transformations that have elevated it from a tiny rubber manufacturing firm to a global leader in the telecommunications industry. It has maintained a laser-like focus on matching its policies and strategies with the constantly shifting business landscape (Simonen, Herala, & Svento, 2020). For example, it has formed a collaboration with Microsoft to develop a new phone that would include a Windows application as part of its contingency strategy. This phone is the company’s most recent product innovation, which is intended to help it sustain its competitiveness.

Nokia’s Culture

Nokia’s organizational culture emphasizes decision-making flexibility and speed, employee participation, reduced levels of bureaucracy through the use of a flat organizational structure, and the provision of equitable opportunity for all employees. Respect, client happiness, renewal, and an emphasis on success are also values followed by the company (Cornelia, 2017). Nokia has always valued customer satisfaction, measured by random modifications in response to constantly changing buyers’ needs, developing goods that best suit customers, and having devoted marketing, sourcing, distribution, and sales operations. (Megerle, 2019). The accomplishment culture is best demonstrated through situational theories by the firm’s constant goal refocusing and major adoption of new tactics in response to changes in the worldwide markets where it operates.

The organization’s culture played a significant influence in assisting the firm’s transition efforts. First, the firm’s culture of respect and flat bureaucracy facilitated change by allowing employees to bring forward ideas for improvements that could be enacted for competitive advantage. The Nokia X is a mobile UI mix combining Android, Windows Phone, Nokia’s Asha UI, and even a philosophical splash of MeeGo. The organization’s development was supported by innovation and continual improvement and the requirement for customer satisfaction by giving attention to the needs of customers (Luomalahti, 2017). The company would not have sold its Nokia Devices operations and moved into manufacturing network equipment purchased from Siemens if it had not listened to and responded to changing customer needs. Thus, transactional theories are vital as employees are encouraged to find solutions to gaps and creativity.

The cultural design advancement of Nokia has contributed significantly to its success. The Nokia X and X+ are identical phones with the exception that the X+ has greater internal memory and therefore costs more. The devices in the line have a streamlined appearance and a matte plastic casing that is pleasant to the touch. The corners are squared off, and the backs are gently curled. The X and X+ have a good heavy feel to them, while the XL extends the same design to make it bigger but also thinner. The end effect is a large, bold phone that looks fantastic and feels wonderful in hand, promoting sales due to the cultural design of the product (Ilie, 2017). This has significantly improved Nokia’s cultural design, which had been an issue with its early Lumia flagships. The Nokia X/X+ comes in two colors: brilliant green and the ‘high-vis jacket’ orange. Black and white and yellow, cyan, and red are available for a more neutral appearance. The batteries in all three phones are user-changeable, and the front shell comes off in one piece.

The transition process was also supported by continuous learning because new ideas could be learned by the employees based on the current situations in the consumer market, allowing the company to strategize on how to stay relevant in the customers’ eyes. The firm’s personnel are highly driven and consequently highly engaged. Nokia leaders place a premium on building personal relationships with their employees, showing that the company’s management is on the right track. Nokia executives speak with employees about a variety of topics, including the company’s direction and values, financial performance, mentoring of staff, and informally joining employees while on lunch breaks to socialize. Therefore, it is clear that the organization’s culture practices the participative leadership theories.


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Sulphey, M. M. (2019). Could the adoption of organizational ambidexterity have changed the history of Nokia?. South Asian Journal of Business and Management Cases, 8(2), 167-181.

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