Building Constructive Relations for Successful Intercultural Communication: A Study of Intercultural Communication at DONG Energy

Anne Sofie Nyholm Andersen & Kristine Reinhold Jakobsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of this research was to study intercultural communication in Danish organizations that are in a process of increasingly becoming global. Danish companies today are taking advantage of foreign market opportunities, leading to expansions of businesses internationally. Such expansions naturally create a workforce constituted of various cultural differences to which successful intercultural communication is a necessity. This development motivated the following thesis to study how Danish employees achieve successful intercultural communication with colleagues of different national backgrounds.
A review of the literature showed that it was dominated by two opposing approaches to intercultural communication and cultural differences; a functionalistic approach that sought to generalize and focus on managing cultural differences and a social constructionist approach that viewed intercultural communication and cultural differences in a more complex and context- dependent manner. This division further created an interest for studying the extent to which cultural differences influenced intercultural communication or whether other significant influencers would be emphasized when conducting a research in a Danish, international organization.
Based on interviews with Danish employees working at DONG Energy, an investigation of the company’s approach to communication across national backgrounds was initiated. By applying a constructivist grounded theory approach, this thesis explored the perceptions, observations, and experiences of intercultural communication internally at DONG Energy to discover how these employees achieved successful intercultural communication. As a result of completing this research, a constructivist grounded theory was created which held that achieving successful intercultural communication was done through building constructive relations. Four influencers on the ability to build constructive relations were further identified: intercultural competence, balancing power relations, advanced language skills, and time. Considering these findings, it was concluded that the role of cultural differences in the intercultural communication investigated was not as prevalent as anticipated prior to conducting the research. In addition, adding this constructivist grounded theory to international organizations’ initiatives concerning intercultural communication across national backgrounds was suggested in order to have an intercultural communication strategy that encompasses the complexities of intercultural communication as found in this study.

EducationsCand.ling.merc Erhvervssprog og International Erhvervskommunikation (Multikulturel Kommunikation i Organisationer), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages239