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Professor’s defense of Danske Bank is to be discussed by Academic Council

The current policy on good research communication practice needs to be revised, argues Søren Hvidkjær, the Dean of Research. He has asked the Academic Council to discuss the matter in the wake of criticism raised by other researchers in the media, in light of CBS Professor Steen Thomsen’s defense of Danske Bank in the newspaper Børsen. Furthermore, he wants the council to give their input on the appointment of a new Vice Dean of Research Communication.

News |   01. Nov 2018

Anne Thora Lykkegaard


When the Academic Council meet on Monday November 5, they are going to discuss researchers’ participation in public debate by updating the existing policy on good research communication practice. Furthermore, the council is to give their input on the appointment of a new Vice Dean of Research Communication.

The discussion and revision of the current policy comes as a reaction to a criticism in the media following an article by Professor Steen Thomsen from the Department of Accounting in the newspaper Børsen.

In the article, ‘Sæt Danske bank fri af gabestokken’ Steen Thomsen defends Danske Bank, while the extensive money laundering case unfolded and revealed that potentially thousands of billions of Danish kroner had been laundered in the Estonian branch of Danske Bank. Steen Thomsen’s own center, the Centre for Corporate Governance, received, a few years prior, a grant worth millions of kroner from Danske Bank.

Søren Hvidkjær, the Dean of Research at CBS, would like to bring the existing policy on good research communication practice up to date. Therefore, he asks the Academic Council for input before the work is set in motion.

To start off the discussion, he has two suggestions,AC November 5 2018 agenda and annexes ex. confidential:

  • “The current policy specifies that: ‘the individual researcher is responsible for making a clear distinction between his/her roles as an academic expert and as a personal opinion maker.’ This line must be maintained.”
  • “The policy should include researcher’s responsibility for making potential conflicts of interests clear, e.g. on their CBS homepage, in line with the transparency requirements in the national code of conduct on research integrity. Specifically, chapter 6 in the national code points out that: ‘Responsible conduct of research includes disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. This allows financial or other interests to be assessed on an informed basis in order to evaluate possible bias of professional judgement.’”

The critique raised in the media began on September 18 when the online magazine,, posted an article in which two professors, Heine Andersen from the University of Copenhagen and Steen Schaumburg-Müller from the University of Southern Denmark, criticize Steen Thomsen’s defense of Danske Bank in Børsen.

“Steen Thomsen has the right to say and write what he wants, but not in his capacity as a CBS professor. In the feature article, he far oversteps the mark of what he, a professor paid by the state, should say,” says Heine Andersen, Emeritus Professor at the University of Copenhagen, in the article.

Steen Schaumburg-Müller says the following in the article:

“The article is an opinion piece and a very strong defense of the bank’s Danish leadership in a case under investigation by the State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime. In this context, the title of CBS professor is very important, so it would have been advisable to state that the center for which he works receives Danske Bank’s support, if this is actually the case.”

The Vice President of the Academic Council at CBS, Bent Meier Sørensen, responded to the criticism in the same article by saying:

“Freedom of speech is unconditional at CBS. We don’t need more police to beat scientists round the head for speaking freely, as long as they are not paid to say something specific.”

In a follow-up article, also published on on September 24, Søren Hvidkjær said that he would take the matter up with the Academic Council.

“I note that the Vice President of the Academic Council at CBS believes that the article is in accordance with good practice, while Professor Steen Schaumburg-Müller does not agree with it. Because of the misgivings raised, I will discuss this specific case with the council,” he said.

Another thing to be discussed is the appointment of a new Vice Dean of Research Communication. A position that was held by Professor Flemming Poulfelt who is going to retire.

Søren Hvidkjær hopes that the Academic Council can provide input on a suitable profile for this position.


  1. Peter Plenge says:

    Alle universiteter står med mellemrum overfor dilemmaet: Videnskabelig integritet conta ytringsfrihed. På Aalborg Universitet har man i tidligere sager løst problemet ved at tillade forskere, der udtaler sig privat/politisk, at anvende titel, men ikke navnet på universitetet.

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