About the project

The Impact of Temporary Work Agencies on the Politics of Work is a research project funded by the Research Council of Norway under the Welfare, Working Life and Migration programme.

The project runs from 2013 until 2017.

The primary aim of the project is to analyse how the expansion of temporary agency work in Norway is linked to changes in the Norwegian labour market and its industrial relations, how  it is interwoven with wider processes of globalisation. Moreover, the project examines how this challenge to the Norwegian welfare society has been met by employers’ associations, unions and the state.

The project also aims at analysing labour market intermediaries and their cross-border networks as facilitators of labour migration to Norway. Furthermore, the project examines the experiences and proactiveness of individual workers being recruited through temporary work agencies.


More about the project:

Globalisation of the economy in general, and of the politics of work in particular, constitute major challenges to the Norwegian welfare society.

In this project we analyse this aspect of globalisation by analysing the significance of temporary work agencies (TWAs) in the Norwegian labour market and in labour migration.

The activities of TWAs raise concerns regarding national and transnational regulation, cross-border business relations and migration of TWA workers. TWA growth in Norway and the increase in migrant labour power in this sector arguably signal structural implications for the politics of work.

New political strategies on the part of unions are called for when sectoral organisation and full-time permanent employment are challenged by TWAs, fuelled by flexibility strategies of companies.

The Nordic model, a triangle bringing together state, employers’ associations and unions in an orderly social dialogue is increasingly being challenged by economic actors occupying intermediary and ambiguous positions in this political map.

In order to grasp the global character of the mechanisms involved, the project entails a comparative component. Furthermore, since TWAs are transnational actors, we will undertake an in-depth study of the recruitment of workers to Norway, focusing on Latvian and Swedish workers.

So far, research conducted on TWAs has been carried out solely by social scientists, and has not included appropriate methods for analysing changes over time, and we have thus included a PhD in history in order to shed light on the responses of unions and employers’ associations as an expression of, and in light of, historical, social, cultural and economic changes in the post-war period.

The research design is qualitative. The project is designed with four independent but mutually informative components:

– The integration of Swedish and Norwegian TWA markets
– TWAs as facilitators of labour migration
– Aspirations, opportunities and proactiveness of TWA workers
– Organisational learning and political strategies in industrial relations





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