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Arla and Danish national identity - business history as cultural history


  • Mads Mordhorst


Through a study of the co-operatively organised dairy company Arla the article argues that the influence of co-operative societies in Denmark goes far beyond the economic sphere. Since the founding of the co-operative movement in the late nineteenth century it has been viewed as a unique Danish way into modernity that is more democratic than the traditional process of industrialisation seen in other European countries. Thus the narrative of the co-operatives has become part of Danish memory and identity. In the post-war years, however, and especially in the last two decades, the process of globalisation in the food industry has eroded the foundation of this narrative from within, such that it has begun to turn against the co-operative societies. Accused of being monopolistic, multinational and undemocratic, the companies today find themselves trapped in their own history and storytelling. The article draws on a cultural-historical framework, narrative theory and Pierre Nora's notion of memory.

Suggested Citation

  • Mads Mordhorst, 2014. "Arla and Danish national identity - business history as cultural history," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 56(1), pages 116-133, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:bushst:v:56:y:2014:i:1:p:116-133
    DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2013.818422

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    Cited by:

    1. Markus Lampe & Paul Sharp, 2015. "How the Danes discovered Britain: the international integration of the Danish dairy industry before 1880," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(4), pages 432-453.
    2. Ushnish Sengupta, 2015. "Indigenous Cooperatives in Canada: The Complex Relationship Between Cooperatives, Community Economic Development, Colonization, and Culture," Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises, vol. 4(1), pages 121-152, August.

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