Mangfoldighedsledelse i USA og Danmark: En komparativ diskursanalyse af begrebets promovering i de to lande og virksomheders anknytning hertil

Andreas Hansen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Diversity management (DM) is a concept, which seeks to make diversity among the employees a competitive advantage to a company. It started out as affirmative action in the 1960’s in the United States, but has since spread to several different western countries. One of these countries is Denmark, where scholars and businesses started to adopt the concept in the 1990’s. Unlike the U.S., Denmark has historically had a very homogeneous population in terms of origins and race, which means that the Danish society has had very different prerequisites when adopting this concept. By applying the framework of critical discourse analysis, this thesis seeks to add knowledge about how differences in the shaping of a concept affect the concept and how it is implicated. Furthermore, these findings will be used to assess how the national discourse about DM in the business world affects companies in their articulation of the diversity policies, to see if they in fact can break out of the national discourse and adopt a more aggressive DM. This will be executed through an analysis of the historic shaping of DM in both the U.S. and Denmark and analyses of how the concept is promoted in contemporary business articles in these two countries. Moreover, the findings will be compared with how three companies from each country have articulated their policies. The analysis of the historic development in the two countries showed that not only had the U.S. been working with the concept much longer than was the case in Denmark, but the origins from affirmative action had been incompatible with Danish values and therefore the concept was framed according to CSR rather than forcing companies to take in specific numbers of minorities. Thorough analyses of the arguments in the articles indicated that the historic development had left its mark. The concept appeared much more stable and well established in the American articles, whereas there was a greater need for overturning arguments in the Danish, in which it was also necessary to denounce ethnocentric positions. This matched the historic shaping to an extent that indicated a connection. The general impression was that the discourse in the US appeared much more established and set, as opposed to the discourse in Denmark where arguments backing the business case were still trying to affect the general discussions and positions around DM. In many ways the dialog in Denmark lagged behind the American development. The articulations showed that in spite of visible differences between the three Danish companies, they were able to break away from the established DM as it appeared in the articles. It was possible for them to promote the business case in a way that made it appear much more established than was the case in the articles. Furthermore, they were not forced to make counterarguments against ethnocentric arguments. As it turned out the general impression was that the Danish companies discourse in many ways seemed more comparable with the one from the American articles, especially in the way the business case was promoted. The American companies, which were more equal to each other in terms of structure, seemed to be following the national discourse as it appeared in the article. This is not necessarily because it was subdued to it, but could be a result of the discourse being established and therefore it is no longer in a developing stage. Conclusively it seemed as if there were significant differences between the discourses in the two countries, which to some extent could be a result of the historic development of the concept. However, it did not seem to inhibit the companies if they wanted to be more innovative in working with the concept.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages182