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Fafo and our history

Fafo is an independent social science research foundation that develops knowledge on the conditions for participation in working life, organisational life, society and politics, the relationship between politics and living conditions, as well as on democracy, development and value creation.

For us, it is particularly important to highlight the perspectives of employees and those who are excluded from the labour market.

Fafo was founded by the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) in 1982 and reorganised to become a non-profit foundation in 1993, with grants from LO, the Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees, Telenor, Elkem, Orkla, Umoe, Coop and Sparebank1.

Fafo has three subsidiary companies: The Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research, Fafo Technology Consulting (Beijing) Co. Ltd, and Economics Norway.

We base our research on high standards of ethics and methodology. We follow the ‘Guidelines for research ethics in the social sciences, law and the humanities’ (see NESH), and we have strict procedures for quality assurance. The Norwegian Centre for Research Data (NSD) is Fafo’s data protection officer, and all projects that handle personal data must be reported to NSD. We place great emphasis on information security, including correct handling of personal data. Fafo’s procedures for internal control have been prepared according to the requirements of the Norwegian Data Protection Authority and are adapted to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Fafo delivers critical, action-oriented research on working life and welfare policy. Our research covers topics such as: collective organisation and regulation, forms of affiliation in the labour market, integration and exclusion in the labour market, qualification and lifelong learning, further and continuing education, the design of welfare services and benefits, European integration, and globalisation. The institute also conducts research on living conditions and development strategies in conflict-ridden countries, as well as post-conflict transition and development.

Fafo is an outward-looking research institute that works in close contact and dialogue with users and commissioning agencies. We have a large number of collaboration partners and a broad academic network in Norway and abroad. We wish to create interesting meeting places and we are active communicators of the knowledge generated from our projects. In addition to publishing in academic books and journals, Fafo produces a self-published report series. Fafo’s researchers are much in demand as keynote speakers at conferences and seminars, and Fafo is the most frequently cited social science research institute in Norwegian media. We are proud of the fact that key decision makers give credence to Fafo’s research in important decision-making processes.

Each year, the institute receives core funding from the Research Council of Norway, which is used for the strategic development of the Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research. Fafo is otherwise financed by commissioned research. Our principle commissioning agencies are the Research Council of Norway, public authorities and the social partners, but we also receive income from international organisations such as the Nordic Council of Ministers, the UN system and the World Bank.

Fafo has a total of 90 employees, 62 of whom constitute the academic staff of the Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research.  The researchers’ backgrounds include sociology, political science, social anthropology, economics, nutritional physiology, history and law. A total of 13 economists work at Economics Norway.

Fafo’s quality assurance procedures (PDF - Norwegian)

Guidelines for Research Ethics in the Social Sciences, Humanities, Law and Theology

Our Data Protection Officer is Sikt and inquiries can be sent to Simon Gogl by e-mail: .

See also Fafo's Gender Equality and Diversity Plan (GEDP) 2022–2025.

Fafo – a brief history

Fafo was founded by the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) in 1982 as the trade union movement’s centre for research, investigation and documentation.

The centre was given its own board and statutes, and seed capital of NOK 100 000. However, the institute was not established as an independent legal entity, and in formal terms, it remained an entity under the umbrella of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions which provided an annual operating grant. In 1993, Fafo was reorganised as a foundation with grants from LO, Orkla ASA, Umoe AS, Elkem ASA, Coop Norge, Sparebank 1 Gruppen, the Norwegian Union of Municipal Employees, and Telenor AS.

The founding capital was used to purchase Fafo’s premises in the Grønland district of Oslo. Borggata 2B was converted from a school into offices in 1993; we also have an annex with an auditorium and conference room. History of Borggata 2B.

In 2006-2007, Fafo marked its first 25 years, including with a jubilee magazine published online.