From DONG Energy to Ørsted: A Case Study About Change Management and Name Change

Maria Kahl Skafte & Cecilie Janet Junker

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis evolves around DONG Energy’s transformation to Ørsted. Our focus is on the story the management has told their employees about the transformation and how the employees further on uses this story to make sense about the transformation. Hereby, with a narrative perspective, we took a closer look at CEO, Henrik Poulsen’s, presentation of the transformation, which he held in Gentofte on October the 2nd. In this 45 minute presentation, Henrik Poulsen succeeded in telling a plausible story about why they chose their new name, and how they now are working from a new and bolder vision: to create a world that runs entirely on green energy. The story about the Danish Scientist, H. C. Ørsted, is a huge inspiration for them as a company, and the importance of changing the way they think about energy, really made sense to Ørsted’s employees. The foundation of the transformation contained such a great potential because of all the hard work the management had put into creating this inspiring story. However, when having a closer look at the respondents involved, it became quite clear, that even though the story made sense to them, their levels of enthusiasm about the transformation were very divergent. Thus, we began focusing on the middle management because they play a significant role in change management because of their daily interactions with employees. In that context, it became clear how the top management's expectations, regarding the role of the middle management, did not match the way our interviewed middle managers saw their own role. Hereby it became particularly clear, that the top management’s thorough work in relation to create a plausible story behind their transformation at the same time became their biggest challenge. Because of the great success of the transformation, the middle management did not find it relevant to talk further about the change, the name and the new vision. According to the theories deduced in the thesis, this is a huge misunderstanding, as it is precisely in the interactions and in the middle management’s work with translating the change into everyday practices, that the change really gets its foothold. Thus, it became clear that the great potential of the change has not fully been realized.

EducationsMSc in Human Resource Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages294
SupervisorsNiels Lund Poulsen