This article identifies and explains two very different pathways to a knowledge economy, based on investment in training in Denmark and research in Finland. The fact that these ostensibly similar countries have pursued such divergent strategies cannot be explained using the established literature on employer organization, labor power resources, and small states. This article develops and resolves this puzzle by focusing on the interaction among organized actors. It argues that nineteenth-century economic and geopolitical challenges generated two distinctive and enduring collective responses based on industry–labor cooperation in Denmark and state–industry cooperation in Finland. Those coalitions continue to shape the twenty-first-century experimentation, supporting investment in continuing education in Denmark and technological innovation in Finland. In explaining these differences, this article not only identifies an enduring and constructive role for strategic cooperation but also explains how it varies among ostensibly similar coordinated economies.