King in the North: evaluating the status recognition and performance of the Scandinavian countries

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  • Full Text

    Accepted author manuscript, 598 KB, PDF document

The Scandinavian states’ pursuit of status in world politics is well documented. However, little is known about whether these endeavors have resulted in higher status for these states. In this article, we suggest that the Scandinavian countries represent a useful case to explore whether similar foreign policy profiles and common club membership equalizes or exacerbates the unequal distribution of status recognition in world politics. To measure the status recognition of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, we use a network centrality measure of diplomatic representation and exchange from 1970 to 2010. We also measure how well the states have performed to increase their status recognition given their available status resources (measured by military capabilities and wealth) and their status-seeking effort (measured by relative diplomatic outreach). Our results show that Sweden has received significantly more recognition and performed much better than both Denmark and Norway in the measured period. We offer three explanations for these developments. First, the spoils of seeking status using the Scandinavian brand is akin to a regional zero-sum game in which Sweden, as the most visible state of the three, is the main beneficiary of the status recognition in the direction of the club. Second, status recognition often lags achievements or increases in status resources because the beliefs of foreign policy practitioners are only updated sporadically. This status lag is especially visible when states struggle to convert their resources into status (Norway), or when they succeed in maintaining their status despite experiencing a drop in status resources (Sweden). Third, an increase in status resources will only influence status recognition if it plays into a corresponding narrative. Sweden, in contrast to the nouveau riche Norwegians, has managed to rearticulate its foreign policy in a way that has attracted recognition in world politics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Relations
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)298-323
Publication statusPublished - 2023

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - status-seeking, international relations, status, Scandinavia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Danish foreign policy, Swedish foreign policy, Norwegian foreign policy

Number of downloads are based on statistics from Google Scholar and

No data available

ID: 314847886