Lundbecks etiske indsprøjtning: Når krisekommunikation helbreder virksomhedens omdømme

Juel Christensen Lene

Student thesis: Master thesis


Crisis management is becoming an increasing phenomenon both globally and nationwide. Consequently organizations’ need for crisis communication skills and for dealing correctly with crises is becoming an important requirement in the corporate world. Today, organizations are forced to navigate in a modern society that creates new kinds of unforeseeable risks. They have to be capable of creating strategies and responding appropriately to critique in a society, whose belief in the authority of companies has been replaced with the need for trust and responsibility. In the beginning of 2011 the Danish international pharmaceutical company H. Lundbeck A/S found themselves in a situation that put their ethical behavior into question. Their drug medicament is being used as part of the death penalty by several states in the US. The situation quickly developed into a critical communication crisis and caused reputational damage due to the company’s unwillingness to live up to their trustworthiness. The thesis, “An ethical injection for Lundbeck – when crisis communication repairs the company’s reputation” studies crisis communication as a repercussion of not dealing correctly with the challenges brought on by the so-called legitimacy of H. Lundbeck A/S. To investigate this problem field a theoretical framework was developed ahead of the empirical research. The framework is based on sociologist Susanne Holmström’s theory on legitimacy along with Dr. W. Timothy Coombs’ Situational Crisis Communication Theory. A methodical approach in form of a thorough research of the broad media coverage of my strategically selected case was found relevant to examine this problem area. This type of qualitative study gives an insight to one specific situation, which applies a deeper understanding of the importance of crisis management. In the article, Legitimitet og offentlighed – reflekterende ledelse, Susanne Holmström clarifies the concept of legitimacy and how organizations obtain this. Her theory is primarily built on Mark C. Suchman’s legitimacy philosophy. The first part of my analysis examines the legitimacy in terms of the pharmaceutical company’s questionable ways of responding to their own set of business values, which are based on responsibility where as the second part focuses on how to manage the crisis using the specific set of crisis communication strategies and theoretical guidelines of Timothy Coombs. The red thread in both Holmström’s and Coombs’ theories is that they equally engage in the fact that it is all about the perception. In order to obtain legitimacy an organization needs to be perceived as a decisionmaker that owns up to its responsibility. Simultaneously, according to Timothy Coombs’ framework, organizations will not regain the trust of their stakeholders unless they base their crisis response on their stakeholders’ perception of the crisis. The thesis argues the case from the different points of views in the media amongst them the involved human rights organizations and H. Lundbeck A/S. The company feels that they are being blamed for a matter they have no control of, and as a result they spend several months staging themselves as the victim and stating that instead action should be taken by others. My research showed that in the end H. Lundbeck A/S succeeded in communicating through a proper response strategy and thereby cope effectively with the critique of their stakeholders by taking the appropriate action and demonstrating the willingness to take responsibility

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages74