Restructuring Work and Employment in Europe

Restructuring Work and Employment in Europe

Managing Change in an Era of Globalisation

Edited by Bernard Gazier and Frédéric Bruggeman

This detailed, comprehensive study on downsizing in Europe is underpinned by cross-national, interdisciplinary empirical research on restructuring management in five European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. It contains systematic national comparative overviews, and transversal analyses of more than 30 in-depth case studies, taking into account a broad range of perspectives across professional human resources managers, unions’ representatives, local and national civil servants, social workers and physicians. The authors examine strategic choices and practices in national and local contexts, showing that the practice of restructuring is not as heterogeneous as many previous studies have indicated or predicted. Systematic policy proposals for better economic and social management of restructuring are also prescribed.

Chapter 7: The Swedish Model of Restructuring

Ola Bergström and Andreas Diedrich

Subjects: business and management, strategic management, economics and finance, labour economics


Ola Bergström and Andreas Diedrich 1. INTRODUCTION The Swedish Model (the Rehn-Meidner Model) can be seen as a model to promote and accommodate structural change. The wage solidarity policy made pure wage competition unviable in the long term and acted to displace low productivity firms (Edin & Topel, 1997). The re-allocation of displaced labour to higher productivity firms was the initial rationale for the extensive active labour policy that is still a central feature of Swedish economic policy and has always been the main public policy response to redundancies. In this chapter we describe the historical development and the characteristics of the Swedish model of restructuring. We argue that in order to understand the practice of restructuring in Sweden it is important to acknowledge the central role of collective bargaining and the presence of job security councils that provide transfer services to dismissed workers. While there have been questions of the relevance of the Swedish model in the context of globalisation and the entry of Sweden into the European Union (Lindbeck, 1998), our analysis shows that the economic regression in the early 1990s triggered a renewal of some of its central features, in particular the re-centralisation of collective bargaining. However, there is a modification in the way the model operates in practice, involving a shift away from the central role of public bodies towards a focus on collectively agreed measures for dealing with restructuring. Job security councils were created to provide transfer services for larger segments of the labour...

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