PhD Thesis

Swedish management in Singapore: a discourse analysis study



The concept of Scandinavian management as a specialised field of interest, began in the early 1980s with a variety of methods, including quantitative questionnaires, surveys, case studies and narratives within the organization. This dissertation uses discourse analysis as a tool for studying Swedish management characteristics outside of Scandinavia, mainly in Singapore. The Singapore Chinese management style is also presented and investigated as a comparative style of management to the Swedish management style in Singapore.

The study sheds light on how the tools provided by systemic functional linguistics can be used in discourse analysis, to study patterns of Swedish management characteristics, values and beliefs. An applied linguistics methodology study, the questions that this study addresses include: does there exist a Swedish management style outside of Sweden? And if yes, is it different from the Swedish management style or model in Sweden?

Interviews were conducted in 2004, with 33 Scandinavian and Asian top-level managers in Swedish managed organizations based in Singapore, in order to get insight into their working lives in a cross-cultural environment. This rendered a total of about 54 hours interview time with a database of more than 260,178 words. The coding procedures of grounded theory from Strauss and Corbin (1998) were used as a data management tool, to sort topics and identify main categories of topics that the respondents brought up during the interviews. It was also used to make more stringent the selection of texts for discourse analysis.

The study found that a distinct Swedish management style existed in Swedish managed organizations in Singapore as many of the Swedes who worked in Singapore saw themselves as a ‘culture bearer’, so that they brought over values and work processes from Sweden, to Singapore. As the Swedish management style differs from the Singapore Chinese management style, cooperative adjustments and efforts at working together were also made such as finding a best practice method for doing things in the office.

This study is inherently cross-disciplinary in nature,contributing not only to linguistics, but to the fields of leadership / management studies, human resource management and specifically Swedish management studies. The last chapter of this dissertation presents ideas for further discourse analytical research in the field of Swedish management studies and studies of management in a cross-cultural environment.

discourse analysis, systemic functional linguistics (SFL), Swedish management, Singapore management, culture.

Appendices to the thesis can be found in:
Cordeiro-Nilsson, C.M. 2009. Swedish management in Singapore: a discourse analysis study. Doctoral thesis, Department of Philosophy, Linguistics, and Theory of Science. University of Gothenburg. Internet resource at GUPEA, University of Gothenburg,