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Print or Perish?: A Study of Inertia in a Regional Newspaper Industry
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Karlstad Business School.
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The newspaper industry has in the last few decades experienced a gradual but steady decline. The cause of this decline and potential ways of counteraction have been under considerable debate recently both in the industry and in academia. For the last decade and a half, the digitization of news has emerged as a much debated challenge and been perceived by the industry as both its inevitable future and its biggest threat.

Taking its starting-point in this complex situation, this dissertation particularly focuses on how the organizational culture of regional, ideologically driven newspaper organizations affects propensity for change. Particular focus is placed on the regional newspaper industry, and an ethnographical case study has been conducted of a Swedish county covered by two independent, competing newspaper organizations. The purpose of the study is to develop a theoretical concept to describe the kind of organizational inertia currently experienced by the regional newspaper industry.

Combining semi-structured interviews, observations and analysis of public documentation, it is shown that both regional organizations in the study are struggling to reconcile a steadily declining print edition with the pressures of publishing news online. The regional newspaper industry is expected to deliver online news content to a growing audience without a profitable business model. Since the late 1990s, when the first of the organizations’ websites appeared, the Internet’s potential as a financially justifiable publishing platform has been put into question. Sixteen years later, the websites and the questions remain.

The study shows how organizational memory and the act of remembrance are used along with certain aspects of corporate history and culture to legitimize long term strategizing that in turn have significant effects on the propensity for change. Dimensions of “spectrality” and the concept of “spectral organizations” are introduced as theoretical concepts to describe these particular types of organizations that are haunted by their past to the extent that they exhibit strategic entrenchment or even altogether an inability to progress and adapt to their environment. The contribution of the study is to increase the understanding of why the regional newspaper industry is experiencing inertia, and of the ideological forces that make implementing paradigmatic change so difficult.

Abstract [en]

Baksidestext:

The newspaper industry has in the last few decades experienced a gradual but steady decline. The cause of this decline and potential ways of counteraction have been under considerable debate recently both in the industry and in academia. For the last decade and a half, the digitization of news has emerged as a much debated challenge and been perceived by the industry as both its inevitable future and its biggest threat.

Taking its starting-point in this complex situation, this dissertation particularly focuses on how the organizational culture of regional, ideologically driven newspaper organizations affects propensity for change. Particular focus is placed on the regional newspaper industry, and an ethnographical case study has been conducted of a Swedish county covered by two independent, competing newspaper organizations. The end result is a theoretical concept that describes, and aids the understanding of, the kind of organizational inertia currently experienced by the regional newspaper industry.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2013. , 214 p.
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2014:10
Keyword [en]
Organizational change, inertia, newspaper industry
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Information Systems
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-26113ISBN: 978-91-7063-539-7 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-26113DiVA: diva2:602323
Public defence
2013-02-25, Ljungbergsalen, Karlstad, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

ISBN of the printed version refers to the 2nd edition of the book.

Available from: 2013-02-07 Created: 2013-01-31 Last updated: 2014-02-17Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

Thoren_2014:10_2nd(15977 kB)1122 downloads
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