Kulturarv legitimerer: Danske kulturarvsinstitutioners strategiske positionering i et styringsparadigmeskift

Ole Magnus Mølbak Andersen

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


This thesis examines how the five biggest Danish cultural heritage institutions strategically have managed the process of implementing framework agreements with the Ministry of Culture as they are replacing the well-proven performance contracts; a process that may be viewed as a move from New Public Management to one of (New) Public Governance. The institutions are The Royal Library, The National Museum, The National Archives, The National Gallery, and The State and University Library. In studying these processes, specific interest to the study is conferred to (i) how the cultural heritage institutions have managed and positioned themselves within their networks, and (ii) what kind of legitimation strategies they have employed. The thesis draws from new institutionalism and network theory inspired by DiMaggio & Powell and Koppenjan & Klijn as well as an institutional approach to organizational legitimacy studies inspired by Mark C. Suchman. In the study a large number of documents are examined an analyzed. These range from the available framework agreements and official organizational strategies to environment analyses and other pertinent documents. In addition to this, as a supplement, interviews have been conducted with the heads of administration at the five organizations. This comparative approach enables the study to demonstrate isomorphic reactions as well as disparate strategies in the ways the cultural heritage institutions cope with a new mandatory management tool. Of particular interest are: (i) what kind of legitimation strategy is applied? (ii) Is the strategic positioning aggressive or defensive? (iii) Do the institutions align their strategies with those of the Ministry of Culture? And (iv) what term most accurately describes the framework agreement and organizational strategy of each institution? The results show that isomorphic impact is significantly greater in the context of the organizational strategies than that of the framework agreements, while the strategic approach is generally more aggressive in the official strategies than what is observed in the context of the framework agreements. The National Archives clearly appear most aggressive while the approach of The Royal Library is much more subdued. The National Gallery conspicuously deviates from the other four cultural heritage institutions by shortcutting the process by being extremely defensive and unambitious while pleading for extra funding. Legitimation strategies vary as well. The National Museum, The National Archives, and The State and University Library all display strategies for gaining legitimacy. The strategy of The National Library is one of maintaining legitimacy while The National Gallery exudes a strategy of repairing legitimacy. Thus, a significant point is that the strategic documents, despite their isomorphic stamp, gives a perhaps surprisingly precise indication of the fundamental institutional basis of each organization.

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages68