Culturally Nurturing Innovation Through Well-considered Structures at Clipper Group: Redefining what Innovation Can Mean for Companies in Traditional Industries

Esben Sjøntoft & Loui Defries

Studenteropgave: Kandidatafhandlinger


This thesis investigates the relationship between structure and innovation and how this is influenced by culture. The focus of the thesis is on the Danish shipping company, Clipper Group, located in Copenhagen. The thesis aims at challenging some of the notions found in the discovered literature, most important of which is the belief that innovation solely thrives in companies with flat structures and consequently, not in companies with tall structures and several layers of hierarchy. In order to challenge/test the abovementioned assumption, we pose the following research question: “How does the organizational structure influence innovation at Clipper and how is this related to the culture of Clipper?” To help answer this question, we devise two sub-questions: “What types of innovation are happening at Clipper?” & “What structures are present/detectable in Clipper?” The discovered literature is two articles that treat the relationship between culture and innovation. These articles by Naranjo-Valencia et al. and Martins & Terblanche are dissected and we present their conclusions, which we later review in the light of our results. Drawing on relevant theories by Schein, Taylor, Ford, Weber, Tushman and Schilling, we account for the foundations behind organizational culture, traditional & early work design, elements of structure, internal communication and innovation. The overall methodology applied in this thesis is qualitative. Regarding data collection, one method is qualitative and one is quantitative. More specifically, the qualitative data collection consists of three interviews with three employees in management positions within Clipper, and the quantitative collection method is a survey distributed on the company's website, resulting in approximately 31 peoples' participation. The analysis of this data follows an interpretive, qualitative approach. In the beginning of the analysis we answer the two sub-questions. In the first answer we apply frameworks from innovation literature and in the second, we apply frameworks from literature on organizational structure. We then turn to the frameworks concerning organizational culture and apply them to decipher the underlying assumptions of Clipper. After this we propose a complete answer to our research question. COPENHAGEN BUSINESS SCHOOL – MCO – 17/05/2016 ESBEN SJØNTOFT & LOUI DEFRIES 5 Before we conclude, we discuss several areas of the thesis, which has an impact on either the result or the process. These areas of discussion include: Criticism of literature, limitations, questions for further study and recommendations for Clipper. In the criticism of the literature, we apply our critical view on the abovementioned articles. First and foremost, we find that they treat the question of being innovative as rather black and white and the relation to culture as too categorical. We contest that the interaction between these two elements is more interchangeable in that a company is not either innovative or not, neither does it have only one culture. We then discuss the limitations that we encountered in connection with some of the data that we collected. This includes data integrity of both the answers in the interviews and in the survey. This is related to interpretations of questions and other intrinsic limitations of interviews and surveys. The questions for further study are not pertaining particularly to the scope of our research question but are definitely relevant to the overall topic. We suggest two additional areas of study which, given more time, could give more ethos to the thesis in the light of what we conclude. In the final part of the discussion section, we provide some concrete recommendations for both Clipper and other companies. These recommendations constitute practical advice based on what we learned throughout the thesis and are a critical reflection on the applicability of the reviewed literature and our own conclusions. Finally we conclude the whole thesis. We summarize the answer to our sub-questions and research question and tie it with elements from the discussion section, in order to provide a conclusive end to the thesis.

UddannelserCand.ling.merc Erhvervssprog og International Erhvervskommunikation (Multikulturel Kommunikation i Organisationer), (Kandidatuddannelse) Afsluttende afhandling
Antal sider113
VejledereAnna Linda Musacchio Adorisio