| 03.06.2024

Managing a business through generosity – new book explores Moomin's path to success

Janne Tienari i Hankens korridor
A brand new Moomin book is set to release in September. However, this book focuses less on the events in the Moominvalley and more on the business and managing the ecosystem of companies with Moomin Characters at its core. Generosity is highlighted as a key management practice. The book is written by Hanken Professor Janne Tienari and Assistant Professor Paul Savage.

“From a management perspective, generosity is based on the conviction that openness to difference, taking care of people and showing respect to them are crucial for retaining a resilient organization”, says Janne Tienari, professor of management and organization at Hanken School of Economics.

Professor Tienari co-authored the book “Moomin Management: Redefining Generosity” together with Dr. Paul Savage, assistant professor at the United Arab Emirates University. 

The book, which is published by Bristol University Press, traces the journey from Tove Jansson’s creations to a global art-based brand and growing ecosystem of companies. Even in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Moomin merchandise was being made available, indicating that the business aspect has been present from the very beginning.

“The company is doing good things by drawing on this wonderful heritage of the Moomins created by Tove Jansson. It’s about maintaining the heritage and the values and making it work in the world today”, says professor Tienari.

Love, equality and courage

During the book writing process, the authors innovated the idea of management through generosity.

“Generosity is based on values of love, equality, and courage, and it underpins not only the art-based Moomin brand but its strategic partnerships, strategy work, and engagement with technologies and the virtual world”, professor Tienari explains.

Building your business on those values is a way to distinguish yourself from the major global players in the entertainment business, according to Tienari.

“So, we tried to figure out what it means to strategize generously. It is about involving more people and extending the pool of strategists. Moomin strategy work is seemingly without design, but it is guided by an exceptionally clear sense of purpose.”

He says that the book is not about generous individuals but about creating the conditions for generosity to happen.

Not a promotional piece

The book is based on Dr. Paul Savage’s ethnographic study in the Moomin organization and has undergone a thorough review process. One of the risks of writing the book has been that it might come across as a lengthy advertisement for Moomin.

“In the book we make it explicit that as critical organization and management scholars we realize that there is a potential downside to everything. While the Moomin ecosystem balances between art and business, our balancing act as authors is between sympathy and critique. The company hasn't intervened in or contributed financially to the book in any way”, says professor Tienari.

He continues by saying that openness and constructive criticism are integral aspects of the authors' concept of managing with generosity.

“Generosity doesn't mean that there are no tensions or frictions. Generosity wouldn't be authentic if it didn't have this kind of edge. Paul witnessed many heated debates among decision-makers at Moomin. Different viewpoints and disputes and making up add spice to the boldness of how they do things.”

Professor Tienari's hope is that readers will grasp at least one key takeaway from the book.

“The Moomin business is profitable and growing. It testifies that you can turn doing good into good business. I hope people will find ways to do good in their own work.”

Text: Jessica Gustafsson
Photo: Jessica Gustafsson and Bristol University Press (book cover image © Moomin Characters™)


OMslaget av boken Moomin Magagement med olika figurer från Mumindalen.