A Country for Old Men: The Inner Circle in Danish Corporate Networks 1987-2016

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


This paper investigates the evolution of the core group within the Danish corporate network from 1987-2016. Drawing on unique register data of all Danish corporate boards, combined with data from Danish personal registers, we show stability and change in the composition of the most central individuals during the last 30 years. The analytical sample totals 39,181 corporate boards, having 350,735 positions held by 130,548 individuals, we identify the individuals in the core of the corporate network in very month from 1987 to 2016. The characteristics of these individuals – gender, education, residence, social origin, etc. - are then explored using personal register data, which also enables to compare the attributes of the core with that of the general population.Unlike the fracturing of corporate networks show both in the US (Mizruchi 2013) and in small states such as The Netherlands (Heemskerk 2008) or Switzerland (Bühlmann, David & Mach 2013), we show that a stable inner circle (Useem 1984) have dominated the Danish corporate networks in the past 30 years. Both the size of the core group of the elite networks, and the individuals within the core,remain very stable, not least during the last 25 years of the period analysed. This in spite of major changes to structures of corporate governance and in the political economy. To underline the influence of this inner circle outside the corporate boardrooms, we also combine our analysis with databases containing 4,000 other key affiliations from Denmark in 2016. The network integration in other sectors show that inner circle members – in particular those with the longest tenure in the inner circle – are also much more likely to hold key positions in governing bodies outside the business world and in the interest organisations of business and social networks of the rest of the Danish power elite.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts : Nordic Sociological Conference 2018
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationAalborg
PublisherAalborg Universitet
Publication date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event29th Nordic Sociological Association Conference. NSA 2018 - Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
Duration: 8 Aug 201810 Aug 2018
Conference number: 29


Conference29th Nordic Sociological Association Conference. NSA 2018
LocationAalborg University
Internet address

Cite this