Till startsida
To content Read more about how we use cookies on gu.se

Leadership in successful newspapers

The project “Leadership in successful newspapers” examines how the management of the provincial press in Sweden has changed over the years.

In the early days, newspapers were often produced single-handedly by a printer-editor. In time he acquired a small handful of associates. Together they produced a paper consisting of a few pages of copy, and the printing press was generally the pulsing heart of the venture.

Today, newspapers are produced by companies in large corporations having hundreds of employees. The editorial staff produce news copy round the clock for multiple platforms. The production process has been digitized, and printing seldom takes place in-house. The close links between newspapers and political and ideological movements that once characterized the press have weakened, if not disappeared entirely; instead, the business aspects of newspaper publishing have come to the fore. The question is how newspapers have been managed, and how managers’ ways-of-thinking have changed in the various phases of this process.

The project “Leadership in successful newspapers” examines how the management of the provincial press in Sweden has changed over the years. Five provincial newspapers form the empirical focus of the study:

  • Barometern (Kalmar),
  • Borås Tidning (Borås),
  • Jönkoöpings-Posten (Jönköping),
  • Nya Wermlands-Tidningen (Karlstad) and
  • Sundsvalls Tidning (Sundsvall).


The project studies the development of each paper’s organizational culture and the ways-of-thinking of the editors and publishers, particularly their thinking concerning the editorial and commercial aspects of their paper from its founding to the present.

The analysis identifies a number of fundamental changes in newspaper management over the 180 years covered in the study, but also finds that certain characteristics that have remained unchanged.

Four formative phases

A main conclusion from the study is that the process of change in management does not follow a linear pattern. Instead, developments in the respective papers are characterized by what is known in institutional theory as critical junctures (formative phases) and path dependency.

At crucial points in a paper’s history choices are made that continue to influence the paper’s development for many years thereafter. Typically, it is the ways-of-thinking regarding the business aspects of newspaper publishing, the ideas about the newspaper’s role in society and the newspapers approach to other political, cultural and social institutions that linger on.

Four formative phases are identified which have continued to exert influence on the respective papers to this day.

  1. The establishment phase: the years immediately after the paper’s founding, when its character as a bourgeois or non-socialist organ serving a local market is established.
  2. The institutionalization phase: an owner dynasty emerges, and the paper establishes its dominance on the local market (1920s to 1940s).
  3. The phase of breaking with political parallelism: political ties loosen or are broken, and professional journalism becomes the rule (the 1970s).
  4. The diversification and convergence phase: in the new millennium a new model of newspaper management gradually emerges and the newspaper company makes critical decisions concerning new communications technologies and takes the step from newspaper publishing to ‘‘media house’’.


The project was finished 2009.

Particpants in the projekt

The project was conducted by Tomas Andersson-Odén (JMG), Monika Djerf-Pierre (JMG), Lennart Weibull (JMG) och Jonas Ohlsson (JMG).


"Leadership in Successful Newspapers’’ (Ledarskap i framgångsrika tidningsföretag) is supported by four Swedish newspaper foundations (Anne-Marie och Gustaf Anders stiftelse för mediaforskning, CarlOlof och Jenz Hamrins stiftelse, Stiftelsen Barometern and Tore G. Wärenstams stiftelse). 


Link to article describing the main results from the project: From idealist-entrepreneur to corporate executive.

Page Manager: Mats Ekström|Last update: 12/4/2018

The University of Gothenburg uses cookies to provide you with the best possible user experience. By continuing on this website, you approve of our use of cookies.  What are cookies?