The Swedish Contribution to Job Quality by Ian Hampson and Åke Sandberg.
This is a draft of a chapter that has been accepted for publication by Oxford University Press in the forthcoming book The Oxford Handbook of Job Quality edited by C. Warhurst, C. Mathieu and R. Dwyer due for publication in 2020.
The focus is on ”the golden age” of worklife reform and work organization development in Sweden, and the societal preconditions for such human-oriented developments. Volvo and its Uddevalla plant is a key example.
The draft has been published as a Working Paper at the Sociology Dept, Stockholm University.
Comments are still welcome, not least on the need to contexctualize even more the advanced work organization models developed in the 1980’s.
Abstract. What is distinctive about the Swedish contribution to progressive worklife reform, and what does it contribute to the current job quality literature? Sweden has produced a disproportionate share of the world’s research into social and organizational aspects of work and is among the leaders in work democratization research and practice. Work design at Volvo Uddevalla was a counterpoint to lean production in the late 1980s and 1990s. We argue that institutional and political characteristics of Sweden, partially registered as the ‘Swedish model’ underpinned these developments. In the ‘golden age’ of worklife reform from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s, an unusual degree of employer support for job quality complemented trade union activism and supportive government research policies. The chapter argues that Sweden’s key contribution to current discussions around job quality lay in developing team-work with high levels of autonomy related to the democratization of work, interacting with action-oriented research and job design, and exploring the boundaries of such developments.