A Very Economic Elite: The Case of the Danish Top CEOs

Christoph Ellersgaard, Anton Grau Larsen, Martin D Munk

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Although the business elites in western societies have a very privileged social background in common, there are substantial differences in the reproduction mechanisms and social trajectories leading to a position within this elite group. These differences are explored by comparing the career paths of the top 100 CEOs in Britain, France, Germany and Denmark. In France and Britain, this reproduction is mediated through degrees from elite universities. In Germany, the principle of admission is the incorporated cultural capital acquired through an exclusive bourgeois origin combined with any university degree. Elite universities also hold little importance for Danish top CEOs, partly due to the institutions' historic decline; instead, reproduction is mediated through time spent in the economic field, placing the case of the Danish CEOs between that of their British and German counterparts. Specific trajectories of Danish executives, in particular sales people, are identified using Multiple Correspondence Analysis and cluster analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1051-1071
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Bourdieu
  • CEO
  • Commercial capital
  • Correspondence analysis
  • Economic elite
  • Field of power
  • Organizational capital
  • Symbolic capital

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