Norwegian employer organizations in the 2000s

A path of coordination or fragmentation?

Kristin Alsos, Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research, Oslo
Kristine Nergaard, Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research, Oslo
Johannes Oldervoll, Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research, Oslo

In a coordinated market economy as the Norwegian, where an institutionalized system of coordination plays an important role (Hall and Soskice, 2001), strong partners on both sides of industry is an essential element. A comprehensive insight into the importance of employer organizations in the development of Nordic welfare and labour market models through a book edited by Carsten Strøby Jensen in 2000 (Jensen (ed.), 2000). Since then, research in this area has been scarce, especially in a Norwegian setting. While the adaption of new structure and functions in Danish employer organization has been documented by Ibsen (2016) and Ibsen and Navrbjerg (2018), the development of Norwegian employer organizations since 2000 has not been addressed by researchers.

Since the 2000s, Norwegian employer organizations has been characterized by mergers, but also with increased competition. In contrast to the more clarified positions between Danish and Swedish employer organizations (Nergaard et al 2016), Norwegian organizations in the private sector have the last couple of decades increasingly aimed for the same kind of members, leading to fierce competition in some industries. In the same period the share of companies that are members of an employer organization has grown, but many of them are not bound by collective agreements. Strengthening of employer organizations through representativeness does not necessarily equal a strengthening of other collective institutions such as bargaining coverage.

In this paper we aim to look into the development of Norwegian employer organization since year 2000, and whether we find a picture of stability or institutional change. Do we witness a trajectory of coordination or fragmentation? What are the consequences of increased competition between organizations when it comes to collective bargaining and employer policies?

The paper will be based on analyzes of literature and documents as well as qualitative interviews with employer organizations.