Industrial relations

Social dialogue is central to the Norwegian model. The social dialogue lay down the foundation for both representative and individual arrangements aimed at employee participation. Both social parties have rights and obligations, and the social dialogue is based on joint responsibility for a just and productive work life.

Social dialogue, which is taking place within thousands of workplaces, is the manifestation of the work-life. Social dialogue is a main field of research at Fafo, and there are a number of intersections to other fields of research. Social dialogue is studied from various angles: institutional theory; industrial relations; power relations and democracy theory, organizational theory and labour law. We employ a wide range of research methods - including registry data and own surveys, and interviews and observation.

Research in this field is directed towards all levels: national level; company and workplace level; and also the relationship between management and the individual employee. All sectors and most industries are covered. Our research include co-operation in accordance with the Working Environment Act and the Companies Acts, the Basic Agreements and collective agreements. We are concerned with the importance of Social dialogue in terms of

  • Value creation and ability to adapt and change
  • Employee opportunity and security for personal development in their work, and employee influence of own work
  • Trade union representatives’ power and influence at various levels

The content of the social dialogue, the specific issues that are informed, consulted and negotiated - are covered by several research fields, for more information, see Health, environment and safety in the workplace, Collective bargaining and agreements, Wage formation, Working hours and employment and European labour models.

Social dialogue and democracy

In Norway, democratic working life and workplaces is a fundamental objective. From a comparative perspective, Norwegian employees enjoy a number of schemes designed to ensure fairness and equal treatment, and opportunities for personal development and growth. How democratic is the Norwegian working life; what can employees and representatives influence on? Which schemes are practised - and are schemes practised according to the intentions? Which issues attract the most interest, and where is the line of conflict? To what degree is social dialogue institutionalized as a form of working in the Norwegian working life - by sector, industry and company size? These are some of the central questions that Fafo has been concerned with over the past years.

Social dialogue and value creation

The story of the emergence of the Norwegian regulatory regime is also the story of parties who co-operate, and who compromise in the best interests of the future of the company. Fafo has been concerned with the role of social dialogue in contributing to value creation and to enterprise ability to change and adapt. The research projects range from business studies of work organization and change processes to major restructuring and downsizing processes. Central in this field, is trade union representatives’’ contribution to restructuring and reorganization, through formal and informal Social dialogue.

Social dialogue and ownership

Fafo research on Social dialogue covers all sectors. We have been concerned with how schemes vary and how ownership and management affect Social dialogue. In the private sector, we have conducted several projects related to the Companies Act provision on employee representation on the board of directors. A different issue of interest is Social dialogue within corporate groups, franchises and other forms of association. Traditionally, research on Norwegian working life has been based on the role of the social partner. However, the emergence of new norms of ownership (‘shareholders’ value’) strengthens the importance of the issue of owners' role and place in the Norwegian model.

Changed conditions for Social dialogue

Both the quality and quantity of Social dialogue vary. Fafo has closely followed the development and have surveyed the conditions for good social dialogue - both from managements’ and trade unions’ perspectives. Research concludes that trust is a fundamental prerequisite. At the same time, both partners change, new ideals for management and organizational models emerge and disappear, and new trade union representatives are recruited and trained. New technology is implemented. The labour force is changing. New norms for human relations (HR) and management roles are coupled with employees’ increased education. To Fafo, studies of challenges and opportunities for future cooperation constitute an important research area.

Industrial relations



Research professor
Research professor
Research professor
Sissel C. Trygstad, Rolf K. Andersen og Anne Mette Ødegård
Faktaflak april 2021
Sissel C. Trygstad, Kristin Alsos, Rolf K. Andersen, Mona Bråten, Inger Marie Hagen og Ragnhild Steen Jensen
Fafo-rapport 2021:10
Inger Marie Hagen og Elin Svarstad
Ansattes styrerepresentasjon i privat sektor
Fortsatt nedgang i bruk av ordningen?
Fafo-notat 2021:07
Rolf K. Andersen og Sissel C. Trygstad
Fafo-notat 2021:09
Fafo-rapport 2020:28
Inger Marie Hagen og Sigurd M. Nordli Oppegaard
Fafo-rapport 2020:07
Sissel C. Trygstad, Kristin Alsos, Mona Bråten og Inger Marie Hagen
Fafo-notat 2019:23
Sissel C. Trygstad, Jon Erik Dølvik, Kristine Nergaard, Johan Røed Steen og Elin Svarstad
Fafo-notat 2019:18
Sissel C. Trygstad og Johan Røed Steen
De tillitsvalgte og medlemmene
Framtidens arbeidsliv: Notat 4
Fafo-notat 2019:17
Jon Erik Dølvik og Johan Røed Steen
Fafo-notat 2019:15
Fafo-rapport 2015:34
Anne Inga Hilsen og Ragnhild Steen Jensen
Den norske arbeidslivsmodellen i endring
En undersøkelse fra busstransport og dagligvarehandel
Fafo-rapport 2014:55
Fafo-notat 2014:03
Jørgen Svalund og Inger Marie Hagen
Fafo-rapport 2014:04
Inger Marie Hagen
Prioriteringer og samarbeid
LOs tillitsvalgtpanel, april 2013
Fafo-notat 2013:14
Kristin Alsos og Sissel C. Trygstad
Fafo-notat 2012:13
Inger Marie Hagen
The Powerful Minority. Employee Board Level Representative between Corporate Industrial Relations
Ansatterepresentasjon i styret mellom Corporate Governance og Industrial Relations. Doktoravhandling
Fafo-rapport 2010:02
Odd Bjørn Ure og Inger Marie Hagen
Towards a fund for decent work within the new agreement on Norwegian EEA grants
Prioriteringer for godt partssamarbeid i Øst- og Mellom-Europa
Fafo-notat 2010:02
Eivind Falkum, Inger Marie Hagen og Sissel C. Trygstad
Bedriftsdemokratiets tilstand
Medbestemmelse, medvirkning og innflytelse i 2009
Fafo-rapport 2009:35
Inger Marie Hagen
Ansatte i styret
Statusrapport 2007
Fafo-rapport 2008:09
Anne Mette Ødegård
Europeiske reguleringer og partssamarbeid
Fafos Rådsprogram 2006–2008
Fafo-notat 2008:15
Sissel C. Trygstad og Inger Marie Hagen
Fafo-rapport 2007:24
Inger Marie Hagen og Sissel Trygstad
Fafo-rapport 2007:15
Gudmund Hernes
Den norske mikromodellen
Virksomhetsstyring, partssamarbeid og sosial kapital. Fafos Rådsprogram 2006-2008
Fafo-notat 2006:25
Sissel C. Trygstad og Inger Marie Hagen
Nye samarbeidsordninger etter sykehusreformen
Evaluering av samarbeidsordningen mellom ledere og tillitsvalgte på regionalt nivå i Helse Øst RHF
Fafo-rapport 453
Bjørn Andersen
Fafo-rapport 428
Jon Erik Dølvik
Arbeidslivsrelasjoner i privat tjenesteyting
– en sammenlikning av elleve europeiske land
Fafo-notat 2001:19
Martin Byrkjeland
Medbestemmelse og faglig innflytelse i overnasjonale nordiske finanskonsern
En kartlegging av personalsammensetning, arbeidstidsordninger og organisasjonsforhold
Fafo-rapport 329
Eivind Falkum, Line Eldring og Tom Colbjørnsen (red.)
Medbestemmelse og medvirkning
Bedriftsutvikling mot år 2000
Fafo-rapport 324

Fredrik B. Kostøl & Elin Svarstad,

Trade Unions and the Process of Technological Change
Labour Economics | 2023 | Open access

Sissel C. Trygstad, Rolf K. Andersen & Anne Mette Ødegård

Trade Union Participation and Influence at Norwegian Workplaces During the Pandemic
Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies | 2023 | Open access

Inger Marie Hagen & Elin Svarstad

15 år med anbefaling for eierstyring og selskapsledelse
– fortsatt aktive direktører og passive styrer? | 2018 | Les artikkelen / Read the article

Svalund, J., G. B. Casinowsky, Dølvik, J. E. Håkansson, K,Jarvensivu, A., Kervinen, H., Møberg, R. J., Piirainen, T.

Stress testing the Nordic models: Manufacturing labour adjustments during crisis
European Journal of Industrial Relations | 2013 | Last ned / Download

Svalund, J.

Adjusting labour through crisis: A three industry comparison
Economic and Industrial Democracy | 2013 | Les mer / Read more

Svalund, J. and H. Kervinen

Trade union power during labour adjustments – comparison of company-level cases
Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research | 2013 | Les mer / Read more

Sissel C. Trygstad

Deltakelse og innflytelse i norskeide og utenlandskeide virksomheter
Søkelys på arbeidslivet | 2012

Espen Løken, Sissel C. Trygstad og Thomas Lorentzen

Den nye staten. Omfang og effekter av omstillingene i staten 1990 til 2004
Søkelys på arbeidslivet | 2005

Sissel C. Trygstad

Utviklingskommunen – nye betingelser for ansattes medvirkning og innflytelse? | 2003

I: Nils Finstad & Nils Aarsæther Utviklingskommunen

Inger Marie Hagen

Ansattes styrerepresentanter | 2002

Mona Bråten, Jon Erik Dølvik, Frode Longva og Arild H. Steen

Norwegian Labour Market Institutions and Regulations | 1997

I: Jon Erik Dølvik og Arild H. Steen Making Solidarity Work? The Norwegian Labour Market Model in Transition

J. Arrowsmith, Heidi Nicolaisen, B. Bechter and R. Nonell

The Management of Variable Pay in Banking: Forms and Rationales in Four European Countries
Bullentin of Comparative Labour Relations | Les mer / Download

Gudmund Hernes, Bjørne Grimsrud og Jon M. Hippe

Samarbeid for utvikling
Partssamarbeid, sosial kapital og utvikling av bedrifter og virksomheter | 2006

Inger Marie Hagen og Morten Huse

Employee directors – Examples from Norway | 2007 | Les mer / Read more

Engelstad, F., J. Svalund, I. M. Hagen og A. E. Storvik

Makt og demokrati i arbeidslivet | 2003 Makt og deomokrati i arbeidslivet.