Nordic Lights. Work, Management and Welfare in Scandinavia

Åke Sandberg (ed.)

Publikation 2013.06.25

The Nordic experience shows that there is no trade-off between equality and economic development. These models of productive welfare and solidaristic individualism are today challenged due to global pressures and politics of deregulation and cuts in welfare. Inequalities grow. But, in spite of their international dependence, the Nordic countries have been different for a long time, and can be so also in the future. Their “provisional utopias” change as experiences grow.

With this background Nordic Lights analyses how management trends like Lean, NPM, BPR, and Toyotism are adapted in the Scandinavian countries. What are the consequences for women and young workers, work environment, flexibility and unions? Do Scandinavian contributions to a decent and productive working life – like socio-technical work organisation and dialogue based management as known from Volvo – show that another world of work is possible?

Twenty-five authors contribute to this book: Michael Allvin, Gunnar Aronsson, Torsten Björkman, Bo Blomquist, Martha Blomqvist, Anders Boglind, Anders Bruhn, Christofer Edling, Tomas Engström, Birgitta Eriksson, Patrik Hall, Dan Jonsson, Sten Jönsson, Annette Kamp, Jan Ch. Karlsson, Anders Kjellberg, Christian Koch, Klas Levinson, Lars Medbo, Fredrik Movitz, Klaus T. Nielsen, Helena Norman, Åke Sandberg, Egil J. Skorstad, Anna Wahl. The book is edited by Åke Sandberg, Professor Emeritus at Stockholm University, earlier at the National Institute for Working Life and the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH).

The Nordic countries have long been beacons for people around the world eager to see workplaces transformed into spaces where working people could express their humanity and aspirations. Readers will find empirical accounts and equally rich theoretical perspectives on the team-work alternatives to the Taylorist and Fordist models and on the broader context in politics, the economy and the labour market.

From the Foreword by Paul S. Adler, Professor of Management and Organization, University of Southern California

This remarkable book explains the Scandinavian model of economic justice. It shows how information technologies can be put at the service of people, improving both efficiency and well-being. Scholars, business executives, and trade unions alike should read this thorough account of solidarity economics in practice.

Manuel Castells, Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Planning, University of California, Berkeley

This superb book shines a penetrating light on contemporary Nordic developments in the fields of innovation in work, organisation and management.  Åke Sandberg has produced an insightful and cohesive and very readable book, most suitable for researchers, practitioners and general readers.

Russell Lansbury, Emeritus Professor in Work and Employment Relations, University of Sydney

In recent years, economic crisis, globalization and imported managerial techniques, have threatened to destroy the Nordic models of labor relations and research. The good news of Nordic Lights is that most key elements of the models remain intact, even as the region’s labor movement faces daunting challenges.

Ruth Milkman, Professor of Sociology, City University of New York

The Scandinavian model of work and economy long stood for attempts to reconcile contradictory interests. Within “Varieties of capitalism” it constitutes a central variation. Nordic Lights analyses this capitalist alternative in a multifaceted way. The exciting analysis is timely as the relevance of such alternatives is now questioned.

Michael Schumann, Professor, Senior President, SOFI, Soziologisches Forschungsinstitut Göttingen

Anyone interested in knowing more about how work in capitalist society can be organised and managed differently from the hegemonic Anglo-American model must read this book. It offers a comprehensive survey of the solidaristic Swedish and other Nordic models, their considerable strengths, but also their vulnerabilities.

Chris Smith, Professor of Organisation Studies and Comparative Management, Royal Holloway University of London

Läs Åke Sandbergs artikel på DN Debatt