Think tanks in Denmark - Media Visibility and Network Relations

Mark Ørsten, Nete Nørgaard Kristensen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


Special interest think tanks have a long history in countries such as the US, Great Britain and Germany but have only recently entered the public and political arena in Denmark. This entry is closely associated with the weakening of societal corporatism in Denmark since the 1980’s and 1990’s, which have necessitated that actors seeking to influence political decisions mak-ing, such as interest groups, have had to find new ways of influencing policy making (Rom-metvedt et al., 2012). Studies of special interest groups in Denmark have pointed towards three important arenas of influence for organized interest: the Parliament, the administration and the news media (Binderkrantz et al., 2012). However, such studies have until now not in-cluded think tanks. In our study we, first and foremost, analyze the two most prominent advocacy think tanks in Denmark, the liberal think tank CEPOS and the social democratic think thank the Economic Council of the Labor Movement (ECLM), and their influence on two of the three arenas: the media arena and the administrative arena. Theoretically, we draw on theories of neo-corporatism (Rommetvedt et al., 2012) and mediatization (Hjarvard, 2013; Strömbäck & Esser, 2014), and argue that media visibility and attention have become increasingly important for political actors seeking to influence decision makers (Rich & Weaver, 2000), but that corporatist networks and access to the administrative sphere are also still important arenas of influence (Binderkrantz et al., 2012). In the empirical study of the media arena in this paper we analyse the full-yearly coverage of the selected think thanks in the three of the largest Danish broadsheet newspapers in two selected years 2006 to 2013 (n = 1696 news items), since especially national broadsheets in a Danish context continue to play an important role as agenda-setters (e.g., Lund et al., 2009). For the study of the administrative arena we have used a database containing the members of all (by January 2014 active), nationally relevant boards. Thereby containing the boards of the top corpora-tions, all state committees and councils, all boards and subcommittees of nationally represent-ed interest group, and several formal and informal networks. The unit of analysis is the ap-pearance of a member of the board or advisory board of the selected think tanks, in any of these nationally relevant boards. Our study shows that both CEPOS and The ECLM are very active and visible in the media, but that the media’s coverage of these think tanks to some extent confirms the re-politicization of Danish newspapers, which others have pointed to (e.g., Hjarvard, Kristensen & Ørsten, 2004; Esmark & Ørsten, 2006; Binderkrantz & Christensen, 2013; Hjarvard & Kristensen, 2014). That is, that the Danish newspapers, traditionally closely linked to the po-litical parties (e.g., Allern & Ørsten, 2011), are to some extent politically biased in their cov-erage of the two think tanks. Our network analysis of boards and committees shows that the social democratic think tank is very well connected to state, government, and organizations mirroring a ‘classical’ corporatist network structure, whereas the liberal think tank has much weaker links to state and government being outside the corporatist structure.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2015
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventNordMedia 2015: Media Presence – Mobile Modernities - University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 13 Aug 201515 Aug 2015


ConferenceNordMedia 2015
LocationUniversity of Copenhagen

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