Leading the church through institutional change


State church
Institutional work
Church of Norway

How to Cite

Nylenna, H. (2024). Leading the church through institutional change: Institutional work during the disestablishment of the state church in Norway. Scandinavian Journal for Leadership and Theology, 11, 36–54. https://doi.org/10.53311/sjlt.v11.116


While institutional changes in the religious landscape of Norwegian society have received much scholarly interest in recent decades, less attention has been paid to the agency provided by actors within the Church of Norway. Among the many ecclesial actors, the role of Director General of the National Council of the Church of Norway has emerged as one of the more important in the process of disestablishing the Church of Norway as a state church. In asking how the Directors General of the Church of Norway performed their institutional work during the disestablishment of the Church of Norway, the article reveals the manner in which three sequential Directors General provided institutional leadership while navigating the church through its institutional change. Using theoretical perspectives on institutional work and leadership, the article analyzes the work undertaken by these three Directors General in relation to state–church matters between 1998 and 2021. By considering previous studies showing how institutional leadership engages in securing internal cohesion and external support while overcoming external opposition, the article shows how each of these elements played a pivotal role in directing the agency of the Directors General at a specific point in the process.



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