Crisis Management of COVID-19 in a Cultural Context - Taiwan and Denmark: A Cultural Study of how the Authorities in Taiwan and Denmark Managed the COVID-19 Crisis, and How the Different Cultures of the Two Countires Influenced the Crisis Management

Anne Gjerding Hynkemejer & Emilie Tondering

Student thesis: Master thesis


In late 2019, a new coronavirus, known as COVID-19, emerged in Wuhan, China and evolved into a global health crisis. Countries around the world have had different approaches to manage the spread of the virus on a national level. However, some countries have managed the COVID-19 crisis better than others. As Taiwan and Denmark have received international attention and praise, this thesis seeks to examine how the COVID-19 crisis was managed by the authorities, and how the culture in the two countries have influenced how it was managed. The research is based on the Three-Stage Approach by W. Timothy Coombs (1995; 2015) in order to examine both countries’ approach to crisis management and the element of culture is examined based on Geert Hofstede (2010) and Fons Trompenaars Cultural Dimensions (1997; 2003) in combination with Inglehart’s Modernization Theory (1997; 2005).
This thesis has used secondary qualitative empirical data in the form of academic articles and information extracted from newspapers and various websites supported by quantitative empirical data in the form of statistics on COVID-19. Primary qualitative data has been collected as three interviews were conducted in order to gain knowledge from experts within the fields of global health, crisis management as well as culture and diversity. It is important to note that the focus of this study has been limited to the initial period of the crisis from late December 2019 to around May 2020.
The findings in this thesis suggest that even though both countries have managed the crisis well, Taiwanese authorities acted immediately to the possible threat of the virus, while the Danish authorities were more hesitant in their response. The findings further suggest that the crisis management approach and cultural context within each country are closely interrelated, which indicates that Taiwan’s approach could not be transferred to Denmark due to the cultural and societal differences regarding values and beliefs.
In conclusion, it was found that authorities in Taiwan and Denmark managed to keep a relatively low number of cases despite different approaches to managing the COVID-19 crisis. The main differences in the two countries’ approach were found to be in their preventive actions. It was also found that the cultures, despite a change in certain cultural values, not only influence but serve as a basis for the way in which the crisis was managed.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages139