Innovation in Denmark: A discursive study of Danish organizations’ focus on innovation

Mikael Boisen Westh

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis takes its point of departure in the societal discourse in Denmark about innovation. I argue that there is a wide-spread belief in Denmark that we must live off our ability to innovate if we are to stay competitive in the future. This belief is shared by politicians, international organizations such as the European Union and OECD, trade associations and unions in Denmark as well as major private sector companies. Following the arguments of new institutional theory, Danish organizations should be influenced by this societal belief and to some extent focus on innovation to gain legitimacy. My research question was:  How have Danish private sector organizations discursively responded to the societal discourse on innovation? o Is there variation in the manner and extent to which different organizations have responded? o Is there variation in the manner and extent to which different organizational fields have responded? Through a discourse analysis of texts produced and disseminated by fifteen large, Danish private sector companies from five different industries I have analyzed how and to what extent Danish organizations have picked up the societal discourse on innovation. I analyzed the websites and annual reports of Novo Nordisk, Lundbeck, LEO Pharma, Coloplast, GN Store Nord, William Demant, Novozymes, Chr. Hansen, Danisco, Maersk, DSV, DFDS, Danske Bank, Jyske Bank, and Sydbank to determine how and to what extent these organizations have incorporated the discourse in innovation. My findings demonstrate that the societal discourse on innovation is shared by our biggest companies: eleven out of the fifteen organizations I analyzed discursively recognize the need for innovation. In addition, I found significant variation between various industries as well as some variation within industries. Most notably did none of the financial organizations show any focus on innovation, whereas the biotechnology companies showed a very strong focus on innovation. Outside the financial sector, eleven out of twelve organizations communicated a focus on innovation, and the societal discourse on innovation thus seems to be shared by our largest companies.

EducationsMSc in Strategy, Organization and Leadership, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages73