Collaboratively Constructed Contradictory Accounts: Online Organizational Narratives

Ib Tunby Gulbrandsen, Sine Nørholm Just

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Based on a mixed-method case study of online communication about the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, this article argues that online communication plays out as a centrifugal narration process with centripetal consequences. Through a content analysis of communication about Novo Nordisk, three dominant online meaning constructions that present themselves as narratives are identified and their convergence into one overarching meta-narrative is identified. The meta-narrative of Novo Nordisk as the ruthlessly profit-seeking socially responsible heavenly work place is made up of the three interrelated, yet disparate tales about Novo Nordisk as (1) a socially responsible organization, engaged in society at large; (2) an organization primarily concerned with fulfilling its own objectives – profit maximization; and (3) a great and employee-centred workplace. The article then discusses the theoretical and methodological implications of the empirical findings. It is argued that although the findings are not in themselves surprising, they adequately reflect that online meaning formation is, indeed, a collaborative process in which centrifugal forces have centripetal consequences. Furthermore, the findings suggest that the chosen mixed-method case study successfully navigates the dilemma of studying online collaborative processes through the traces they leave behind.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMedia, Culture & Society
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)565-585
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013

Cite this