Drawing on interviews, archival material, and observation, this article investigates how and why, on two different occasions, actors at the Carlsberg Group headquartered in Denmark were inspired to use a particular historical artifact, the Latin phrase Semper Ardens, carved above a doorway. Used first as the inspiration for naming a new line of handcrafted beers, ten years later it became the motto featured in the company’s identity statement. Findings describe a temporal pattern of micro-level activities that accounts for how actors used this historical material and, in doing so, lent the authenticity of history to their actions, a phenomenon we term organizational historicizing. Analysis of historicizing activities revealed five micro-processes: rediscovering, recontextualizing, reclaiming, renewing, and re-embedding of an artifact in organizational history. Relationships between the micro-processes, explained in terms of authenticity, power, and identity, are theorized in a process model describing organizational historicizing. The findings show the importance of history when establishing claims to authenticity and how history becomes relevant to present and future activities. We also show that latent history can be revived for use in future historicizing.
Bibliographical notePublished online: 31. January 2017
- Organizational history
- Brewing industry
- Organizational identity
- Carlsberg Group