Strategic and Institutional Uses of the Past by a Family Philanthropic Foundation: A case study of temporal legitimations in the New Carlsberg Foundation

Ida Lunde Jørgensen and Roy Suddaby

Philanthropic foundations are a significant organisational form legitimating the power, wealth and success of the founding family and firm with great transformative potential. The following paper attends specifically to how a family foundation makes both strategic and institutional use of temporality in different ways to legitimate its purpose and practices. The paper theorizes upon this based on a detailed analysis of the temporal legitimations pursued by a well-established and highly influential philanthropic family foundation supporting the visual arts in Denmark, drawing out a number of underlying strategic and institutional uses of the past pertaining to the charter, family history and familial dynamics, our place in history, the present and imagined future, anecdotes and coincidental stories. Significantly, we argue that while some of the uses of the past in family foundations are strategic, in which the participants are reflexive and instrumental about their use others are institutionalized, in which the participants have limited reflexivity and agency in the core purpose and practices of the foundation and addresses the different contexts that create propensity towards different degrees of reflexivity and institutional reification.