Consensus building in complex networks: An analysis of the motives, processes and output within the Danish Mirror Committee

Louise Trøllund Jensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


ISO 26000 is the designation of the future International Standard giving guidance on Social Responsibility (SR). It is intended for use by organizations of all types, and therefore, different categories of organizations have participated in the development of the ISO standard on SR – ISO 26000. This process has included various stakeholders from different countries, developing and developed, and it has been a challenging consensus building exercise. In this thesis a fragment of the international ISO 26000 development process – the micro cosmos of the Danish Mirror Committee (DMC) – is investigated. Within this national network the consensus building exercise is analyzed in order to evaluate how the motives, processes and output of the DMC has fostered consensus. Consensus building is a difficult task and there are several factors that influence to which degree consensus can be reached. The motives of the stakeholders in a network may differ, which makes it more challenging to reach consensus. Moreover, the processes that take place within a network are guided by the network structure, which is defined by the ties between actors and the relative position of these. This structure influences the level of consensus within the network. Furthermore, a certain level of critical success factors are required if consensus among members should be reached. If the processes are managed well, it becomes easier for the actors to reach consensus and find a joint solution. Another indicator for the level of consensus is the realization of expected output of being part of a network. Members may have different expectations, but their evaluation of the level of realized expectations indicate that a certain level of consensus has been reached if realization is possible. These different factors are important indicators when determining the success of the consensus building exercise that takes place among members in a network. This has led to an interest in how consensus is fostered within networks. Therefore, the consensus building exercise of the DMC network is the focal point of this investigation. Furthermore, it constitutes the problem field which is analyzed in this thesis. Thus, the motives, processes and output are analyzed to evaluate how these three components foster consensus in a network.

EducationsMSc in International Business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2008
Number of pages210