HiPPOs (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) in the Swedish Media Industry on Innovation: A Study of News Media Leaders’ Attitudes towards Innovation


  • Ester Appelgren Journalism Department, Södertörn University
  • Gunnar Nygren Södertörn University, Journalism Department




media management, leadership, innovation, skill development, leadership roles, change


Decades of change in the media landscape and technological innovation have brought several uncertainties to media leadership. In this study, we build on the upper echelons theory to discuss the possible isomorphic behaviour of media leaders. Based on a survey of 372 Swedish media leaders, our results indicate that while innovation is considered to be a strength at media companies, innovation work may still stand in contrast to the institutional perspective. We found that Swedish media leaders perceive innovation as highly important and something they are good at. The perceived ability to work with innovation inside the organizations (rather than introducing knowledge from outside expertise) is undermined by the fact that, during the average work week, the majority of leaders set aside very little time for developing their own competences, individual talks with their employees, and time to reflect on their own work. Thus, in line with upper echelons theory, we find a paradox of trust in in-house innovative strength and, at the same time, media leaders fall back on their own experiences, limiting the inflow of new ideas into their strategic work.

Author Biography

Ester Appelgren, Journalism Department, Södertörn University

Journalism Department

PhD, Senior Lecturer


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