10 inspired

a) The main facts about the activities of the company.

They are employing people with Autistic symptoms, because they do have a high concentration power, attention to details and other qualities to be a good program tester.

The company tests job applicants with programs developed by Lego to determine their concentration levels and skills they have for different system testing jobs. Employees of the company are trained according to their positions before working on real business projects.

Specialisterne is determined to provide best quality services to its clients and at the same time offers industry-competitive wages to employees. The main reason to pay competitive wages to the employees is not because they feel pity for people with autism and want to help them, but it is because they believe that these people can do an equal or even better job than people without any disability working in the sector. So at the same time the company is improving their service quality and competitiveness, they are also helping the ASD people to reintegrate into the labour market. In this way, they achieved the economic value (competitiveness) and social value (offering ASD people jobs), and this is called the dual value creation.

Some special terms are set for the projects, such as ?reduced working hours (typically 20-25 hours per week)? and ?workplace surroundings? (Specialisterne, 2008) to ensure that employees with special needs or attention can work under suitable circumstances and make the most out of their talents.

b) The ethical challenges this company is addressing.

The ASD people are having a difficulty to work in groups,required special design of working environment and have a difficulty to join the conventional labour market. Therefore, the company has to devote extra resources to meet these requirements and help these people to get used to join the labour market.

c) What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it.

Because it has received a number of prizes regarding its success in combining social aims with profits and its contributions to the society, and it is highly recognized by the business field.

For example, In April SPECIALISTERNE hit the frontpage on the Harvard Business Schools ?Working Knowledge? portal with the article: The Surprising Right Fit for Software Testing?

d) The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

To be honest, the model is close to perfect. The only thing that might worthy to note is that they are only serving a small proportion of ASD people, as they can only employ ASD people with features they need, for example, concentration ability and willingness to work routinely. Improvements may be made if they can expand their target group to more people, for example, allocating other types of jobs to ASD people that have other types of talent.


Austin, R. D., Wareham, J., & Busquets, J. (2008). Specialisterne: Sense and Details. Harvard Business Publishings .
HULG?RD, L., & BISBALLE, T. (2004). WORK INTEGRATION SOCIAL ENTERPRISES in Denmark. Retrieved from EMES: http://www.emes.net/fileadmin/emes/PDF_files/PERSE/PERSE_WP_04-08_DK.pdf
Sonne, T. (2008, September). Entrepreneur Thorkil on what you can learn from employees with autism. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review: http://www.specialisterne.dk/fileadmin/files/Pdf-filer/Harvard_Business_Review.pdf
Wareham, J., & Sonne, T. (2008). Harnessing the Power of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Harvard Business Review .
Wroth, C. (2010, January). Specialisterne turns autism into an advantage. Retrieved from Ode Magazine: http://www.odemagazine.com/doc/68/thorkil-sonne-bio/

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1 Discussion / 1 Message

  • Specialisterne 4 October 2012 at 15:17 , by QuynhPhan

    Specialisterne is an inspiring company to me, because its concept is exceptional. It gives people with ASD a meaningful job in a proper environment. Employees at Specialisterne are trained and appreciated for their unique talents. Instead of treating them as cheap workers and relying on the customer’s social responsibility, their work is regarded as superior and therefore charged at high rates. This gives them hope, makes them feel valued and on a par with non-disabled persons. On top of that, hiring a Specialisterne consultant makes managers more open to people with disabilities and improves their soft skills such as empathy and sensitivity.

    Despite all these positive effects, I still see some critical aspects in this venture. In fact, I wonder if Specialisterne not rather establishes a sharp border between disabled and non-disabled persons instead of integrating both as similar employees into one labor market. Although people with ASD may have different qualifications and needs, they must face the requirements of the conventional labor market in the long run. They will have to learn to communicate, to work with others and to overcome their deficits in social interaction. If they constantly work in relative isolation (what is considered to be “appropriate”/”best” for them), they will never learn to socialize with others. It might be better to encourage them to participate in career-skills-trainings.
    Furthermore, creating jobs customized for disabled people could offend those who are not disabled, leading to an even greater antipathy towards disabled persons. For the same job (finding bugs in software), a consultant at Specialisterne gets more money while working less hours than any other consultant.
    A last critical point is that there is a risk of disillusioning people with ASD who fail to pass the selection process. Those who have desperately been looking for a job might find hope in Specialisterne. If they don’t get the job in the end, they might be traumatized feeling that there is no job at all that matches their talents.

    Taking everything into consideration, I come to the conclusion that Specialisterne is still a remarkable company that provides jobs for those who would otherwise struggle in the conventional labor market. In the long run, there must be nevertheless a general shift towards thinking of disabled and non-disabled persons as equal employees, working together at the same workplace.

Location: Copenhagen (Denmark)

Sector: software testing

Official website: http://specialisterne.com

Key figures:

In 2008, Specialisterne had 75 employees and revenue of 1.5 million Euros

Specialisterne has won a number of prizes regarding its success in combining social aims with profits and its contributions to the society, prizes include The Autism Prize 2004, The Initiative Prize 2005 and Best Large Social Firm 2006

Nbr. visits: 1772

Nbr. inspires: 10