Kampen om Charlottenborg: En neo-institutionel analyse af de ledelsesmæssige udfordringer på Kunsthal Charlottenborg i perioden 2005-2019

Andreas Brøgger

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


This thesis examines the leadership challenge at the state-owned Kunsthal Charlottenborg in the turbulent period from 2005-2019. Kunsthal Charlottenborg is a contemporary art center housed in the historical Charlottenborg palace in the centre of Copenhagen, Denmark which has been the subject of public controversy and has undergone major changes in the period covered in the thesis, including a redefinition and restructuring in 2005, 2009 and finally a merger with the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2012. A total of six directors have taken turns leading the organisation, and half of these were either dismissed or resigned due to budget deficits and difficulties in accomplishing the mission. It is only recently, since 2015 and following the appointment of the current director, Michael Thouber, that the organisation finds itself on safer ground, finally thriving through a significant increase in audience numbers and support from a number of private foundations. The thesis attempts to explicate the causes of both the turbulent period in the past and the recent success through an investigation of the leadership practice of Michael Thouber in particular as well as the previous directors. The analytical main section of the thesis consists of two parts. The first covers the period 2005-2015 while the second, larger and more in-depth part covers the recent period from 2015-2019. The main findings of the thesis concern the conscious and consistent work of the current leadership in garnering renewed support for the organisation through, primarily, the following elements: 1. A new funding approach led by Thouber and Kofod Olsen which has succesfully secured the support of significant actors in the environment 2. A new and relevant vision which is consistently promoted by the organisation (and its director personally in particular) in a number of ways that engages other actors 3. An adaption of the organizational model and features to currently valorized organisational models in the environment 4. An increase in operational capacity 5. An effort to enhance the perceived value of the organisation's cultural offerings 6. The use of history as a strategic resource in the organization's communication The main theoretical basis for the investigation is neo-institutional theory developed by DiMaggio & Powell and Meyer & Rowan which is a sociological theory that examines organizational behaviour as situated in a wider context of other organizations in an organizational field. The behaviour of these organisations is regulated by institutions which in various ways restrict and 2 enable their actions and interactions. This theory has proven useful in understanding the dependency of Kunsthal Charlottenborg on other actors in the field and how a number of institutions have played a significant role in the period covered by the thesis. Further and more recent neo-theoretical perspectives are introduced in order to understand the specific complexity of the thesis subject, notably the theory of institutional work propounded by Thomas B. Lawrence & Roy Suddaby and the theory of rhetorical history as a source of competitive advantage introduced by Roy Suddaby, William M. Foster and Chris Quinn Trank. The typology of institutional work developed by Lawrence & Suddaby is applied through the main analytical section of the thesis. The theory of rhetorical history of Suddaby et.al. is used in a study of Kunsthal Charlottenborg's current communication where the history of the organization plays a significant strategic role. A set of further theoretical texts serve as basic foundations for the thesis work, mainly Mark Moore's theory of public value and strategizing in public organizations, the theory of strategy as performance proposed by Martin Kornberger, the theory of management of legitimacy from Suchman and more broader perspectives on e.g. paradigms in public management. The empirical material consists of semi-structured interviews conducted with four central actors in the field and closely related to Kunsthal Charlottenborg: Michael Thouber (Director, Kunsthal Charlottenborg), Sanne Kofod Olsen (Rector, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts), Karin Markussen (Head of Division, The Danish Ministry of Culture), and Michael Bjørn Nelleman (Director of private foundation Det Obelske Familiefund). Further, a large sum of studies, annual reports and other documents from Kunsthal Charlottenborg and the Ministry of Culture are included along with a number of interviews and opinion pieces from Danish media from 2005 and onwards which are publicly accessible online.

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages110