Culturally Nurturing Innovation Through Well-considered Structures at Clipper Group: Redefining what Innovation Can Mean for Companies in Traditional Industries

Esben Sjøntoft & Loui Defries

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesisinvestigates the relationship between structure and innovation and how this isinfluenced by culture. The focus of the thesis is on the Danish shipping company,Clipper Group, located in Copenhagen. The thesis aims at challenging some ofthe notions found in the discovered literature, most important of which is thebelief that innovation solely thrives in companies with flat structures andconsequently, not in companies with tall structures and several layers ofhierarchy. In order to challenge/test the abovementioned assumption, we posethe following research question: “How does the organizational structureinfluence innovation at Clipper and how is this related to the culture ofClipper?” To help answer this question, we devise two sub-questions:“What types of innovation are happening at Clipper?” & “What structures arepresent/detectable in Clipper?” The discovered literature is two articles thattreat the relationship between culture and innovation. These articles byNaranjo-Valencia et al. and Martins & Terblanche are dissected and wepresent their conclusions, which we later review in the light of our results.Drawing on relevant theories by Schein, Taylor, Ford, Weber, Tushman andSchilling, we account for the foundations behind organizational culture,traditional & early work design, elements of structure, internalcommunication and innovation. The overall methodology applied in this thesis isqualitative. Regarding data collection, one method is qualitative and one isquantitative. More specifically, the qualitative data collection consists ofthree interviews with three employees in management positions within Clipper,and the quantitative collection method is a survey distributed on the company'swebsite, resulting in approximately 31 peoples' participation. The analysis ofthis data follows an interpretive, qualitative approach. In the beginning ofthe analysis we answer the two sub-questions. In the first answer we applyframeworks from innovation literature and in the second, we apply frameworksfrom literature on organizational structure. We then turn to the frameworksconcerning organizational culture and apply them to decipher the underlying assumptionsof Clipper. After this we propose a complete answer to our research question.COPENHAGEN BUSINESS SCHOOL – MCO – 17/05/2016 ESBEN SJØNTOFT & LOUI DEFRIES5 Before we conclude, we discuss several areas of the thesis, which has animpact on either the result or the process. These areas of discussion include:Criticism of literature, limitations, questions for further study andrecommendations for Clipper. In the criticism of the literature, we apply ourcritical view on the abovementioned articles. First and foremost, we find thatthey treat the question of being innovative as rather black and white and therelation to culture as too categorical. We contest that the interaction betweenthese two elements is more interchangeable in that a company is not eitherinnovative or not, neither does it have only one culture. We then discuss thelimitations that we encountered in connection with some of the data that wecollected. This includes data integrity of both the answers in the interviewsand in the survey. This is related to interpretations of questions and otherintrinsic limitations of interviews and surveys. The questions for furtherstudy are not pertaining particularly to the scope of our research question butare definitely relevant to the overall topic. We suggest two additional areasof study which, given more time, could give more ethos to the thesis in thelight of what we conclude. In the final part of the discussion section, weprovide some concrete recommendations for both Clipper and other companies.These recommendations constitute practical advice based on what we learnedthroughout the thesis and are a critical reflection on the applicability of thereviewed literature and our own conclusions. Finally we conclude the wholethesis. We summarize the answer to our sub-questions and research question andtie it with elements from the discussion section, in order to provide aconclusive end to the thesis.

EducationsCand.ling.merc Erhvervssprog og International Erhvervskommunikation (Multikulturel Kommunikation i Organisationer), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages113
SupervisorsAnna Linda Musacchio Adorisio