Institutional Isomorphism and the Sustainable Development Goals: The Co-Creation of Models and Norms in a Network of Professionals. A Case Study of How the SDG Project ‘FN’s verdensmål – fra Filantropi til Forretning’ Facilitated the Mechanisms of Mimetic and Normative Isomorphism

Anna Julia Katarina Svedjemo & Julie Schroll Andersen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis studies the case of the SDG project ‘FN’s verdensmål - fra Filantropi til Forretning’ initiated by the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI). The SDG project was developed in order to make the SDGs relevant in a business context for the 21 project participants, DI’s members and Danish businesses more broadly. With the project coming to an end, this thesis set out to study DI and the participating companies’ experiences of the project. By applying the new institutionalist perspective by DiMaggio and Powell (1983), the thesis studies how the SDG project facilitated the mechanisms of institutional isomorphism. Based on qualitative interviews, the empirical analysis shed light on how the mimetic and normative mechanisms have been facilitated in the project through the diffusion and establishment of models, and by enabling a network of professionals to form and engage in a process of professionalization. Further, the empirical analysis suggest that the DI and the project participants are spreading the models and norms established in the project in a wider SDG field. In relation to the empirical findings, the paper opens up a discussion of the maturity of the SDG field and how the SDG project facilitated a space within which the mechanisms did not only occur separately but also intertwined in a co-creation process of models and norms. Thus, the thesis concludes on how the SDG project facilitated mimetic and normative isomorphism through the diffusion models, the creation of a network of professionals and by allowing a space for the co-creation of models and norms.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages103
SupervisorsSusana Borrás