Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 3 2001, page 87-102.
English resume

The board as a strategist

In a socially constructed world

Søren Christensen og Ann Westenholz

The article argues that Boards of Directors of Danish companies have been socially constructed as an important decision making body in the companies. Since 1974 employees have elected members to the Board of Directors. Today they can elect one third of the Board members. In spite of this new composition of the Board, it has emerged as a team applying integrative decisionmaking processes (March & Olsen). At the same time the board has been able to convince the stakeholders, the press, and the public about its important standing in the management of the company.

To understand this development four different perspectives are applied:

(1) The changing business environment that has framed the development: globalization, mergers and acquisitions, increased competition, technological innovations, strategic alliances, political consumers, ethical issues are factors that have been the motor for this change,

(2) A radical social psychological version of leadership theory (Meindl) to understand the social construction of the change of the role of the Board of Directors that has occurred. It is argued that the stakeholders and society at large have ascribed importance and leadership to the Board, and that it plays an important role as strategist in the companies.

3) The board seen as a theater ensemble staging a performance for the audience (stakeholders and the wider environment) using Erving Goffman’s Presentation of Self in Everyday Life as a theoretical point of departure. From this point of view the role of the Board is to socialize new members, to maintain its unity, and to successfully play the role of strategist.



Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv

(Journal for Working Life)


 

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in Danish frontpage Nyt om arbejdsliv
editor Jørgen Burchardt