Performancekultur – En paradoksal sammensætning: En organisationskultur i forandring

Sofie Hansen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis investigates how we can come to understand the performance culture in SEB Pension, and how it changes the current organizational culture. This led me to the following research question: What kind of change does the construction of the performance culture create in SEB Pension? To answer this question it is relevant to understand how the management tries to create the performance culture and hence change the current culture. Thereafter I needed to look into how the employees experienced the performance culture, and how these understandings further developed and constructed the performance culture. Lastly, I was interested in understanding the complexity, ambiguity and contradictions of the performance culture In order to investigate how the performance culture is constructed and changes, I collected 11 intranet articles, 11 leader columns, and two PowerPoint presentations representing the management’s point of view. I then interviewed nine employees of varying ages, departments, and job titles and with different opinions about the performance culture to get a wide spectrum of - and perspectives on the performance culture. In my research process I analyzed both the management’s and employees’ sensemaking and sensegiving processes, and how the employees created meaning from different symbols. Throughout my analysis I used a contradiction and paradox perspective to make sense out of the complexity that appeared. My findings showed that the performance culture and its development could be understood through paradoxes. I found five paradoxes: (1) between soft and hard values, (2) between individual and organizational performance, (3) between control and autonomy, (4) between passive and active participation, and (5) between the performance culture as existing and a future goal. By seeing these paradoxes as social constructions and how they are framed, it becomes apparent, how the performance culture are enabling and constraining the employees, and how they are dealing with them. This creates a behavior where the employees are participating in the performance culture and its journey in a passive way. The boundaries of the performance culture are so wide and ambiguous that it is easy for the employees to legitimize their actions. Thus they do not need to change their everyday life at work very much in order to participate in the performance culture. So while they feel the changes in visible performance activities such as smiley posters, pause gymnastics, workshops, etc., they do not feel much changes in their daily work life and practices. They feel the need to perform better at an organizational level, but the performance culture seems more irrelevant at an individual and vocational level.Theoretically the findings are interesting because they put contradictions and paradoxes in a new light. They should not just be seen as problems that should be eliminated but as having potential, since they can transcend contradictions that arise from changing the organizational culture. Furthermore it is not only interesting to investigate resistance through differences in artifacts, values and deeper assumptions, but to look into the contradictions and paradoxes inherent in either the system or organizational communication.

EducationsMSc in Organisational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages84