AN ANALYTICAL HISTORY OF NORWEGIAN WORKING LIFE: AN INTERPRETATION OF LABOUR MARKET INSTITUTIONS IN NORWAY

This article presents an analytical account of the development of Norwegian labour relations based on elements from power resource and regulation theory and the more recent theory of Varieties of Capitalism. Labour market institutions are seen as an outcome of: (1) conflict dynamics and resolution, (2) as influenced by occupational interests in economy-wide regulation and (3) as supported by the need for coordination to solve collective action problems. Institutional configurations in Norwegian society have furthered worker independence and strength. They have enabled economic actors to exercise a moderating influence on economic inequalities and have eliminated opportunism in the way workers were once treated. To a large extent, Norway realized what has been called democratic capitalism. Norwegian institutions still have a democratic «deficit», however. Work organization and job quality are left to capital to decide, rather than being negotiated. This institutional «deficit», together with power imbalances, implies that injustice and opportunism may still be found in Norwegian working life.

Keywords: Norwegian labour relations, trade unions, employer organizations, institutional theory