At last years ilpc conference in Stockholm I (Åke Sandberg) organized two round tables, mini symposia, both on the ‘Swedish model’ in a wide sense. One on welfare, labour markets, production networks and work in general, and one on the Volvo Uddevalla exerience of ‘reflective production’, an alternative to lean production. Many competent colleagues participated, the discussions were transcribed, and the result was a report I edited, and it may be downloaded here: Contested Nordic Models of Work and Employment. Volvo Uddevalla and welfare capitalism. There is also a background interview in Swedish.
We inform also about a new book on a simiar theme: Nordic Lights. Work, management and welfare in Scandinavia, Åke Sandberg editor (512pp.)
Below find the text on the back cover; note ilpc veteran Chris Smith’s endorsement!
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
New photos from Stockholm discovered in my computer. I just added some of them in the photo gallery below. Many of the are shot by Kenneth Abrahamsson (then at FAS, the Council for Working life and Social research, who supported the conference). You will find photos from plenary and paper sessions, from the reception in the City Hall and from the book launch in front of Hilding Linnqvists beautiful and colorful painting in the Aula Magna. The picture selected here is from the book launch. Hope to see many of you at Rutgers soon. /Åke Sandberg
Both keynote talks are now uploaded. Why not leave a comment?
Here is Joan Greenbaum‘s powerpoint presentation for those who like to remember the talk, because as we all know, the trick is not in the slides, but all in the talking. Her talk was about Political Economy of mobile technologies in everyday work and life
And here is a revised version of Michel Freyssenet’s talk on The intellectual division of labour: a stake in the current crisis? As the talk was compact and complex in its structure we think it will be useful and interesting reading also for those who participated in the session. Come to this site within a few days to read about
Why not leave a comment below?At the opening plenary session there was, as is often the case in plenary sessions, only only a few minutes left for questions, answers and discussion, so may we suggest that you use the possibility to leave a comment upon the presentations here in the blog, perhaps on how the ilpc tradition may be related to the ideas of the keynote speakers, or any other issue. Would be interesting to try a virtual Q&A session, both for those of you in Stockholm and those who could not. Environmentally friendly and egalitarian!
Conference participants have been trying to download papers they found especially interesting, after listening to presentations and after meeting authors. However they say that often they do not find the paper on the ilpc home page. So as a courtesy to your colleagues and as an act of mutual support we are asking you to upload your paper. Thank you very much, merci, danke, gracias. Tack så mycket.
Also if you have interesting or fun photos, or stories och experiences to tell, from the confrence, please mail to me, and I will try and publish on this blog. My own photos are few and of course cover only the few sessions I could participate in. So come back to the blog, we hope to publish more.
We were glad to meet you all during the conference, we hope we will keep in touch, and here are the email adresses of my colleagues: lotta.stern [at] sociology.su.se and fredrik.movitz [at] sociology.su.se and mine is ake.sandberg [at] sociology.su.se
Take care / Åke
Colleagues, After a major conference – first some rest, good idea that easter is soon. Then – What to do next? As for me, I have a few thougts. First, in mid-April the manuscript to my edited volume Absolut managment will be delivered to the publisher sns förlag in Stockholm – they now seek an international publisher as a partner. Then I have time and am open to new projects and co-operations.
One of the things I plan over the next few ears is a research network and book project: Another world of work is possible. Or Those who changed the world of work. In short I want colleagues help to gather cases of workplaces and production concept that are both good work / decent work and productive activities. And the cases should be accompanied by analyses of the preconditions under which such an interesting combination of human and economic goals was possible. Preconditions that may have to do with country, sector, position in production networks and in the international division of labour, the relation between control and productivity etc. The good work in one workplace should be seen in the context of how that affects other workplaces in the company and in the production network.
The inspiration is to do something radically different from the well know book The machine that changed the world (1991) from the IMVP, the International motor vehicle programme at the MIT. They collected good examples, cases and overviews of what came to be known as ‘lean production‘. But they used the cases in an unscientific way (empirically, methodologically and theoretically, see chapters in Enriching Production). They used the cases as a way of legitimizing their propaganda for a type of production tystem that was not at all as humane as they stated. They said it was about enhancing worker autonomy and qualifications, but it was mainly about profits and control.
One background to a book like the one I propose, yes even a section in the book might be cases and analyses of lean production and of the IMVP project and book. Analyses of lean production, its fundamental ideas, application and modification and its effects, negative but also positive are welcome, as a supplement to the ‘good examples’ that shall be the core of the book. Over the years there is a long tradition of reports about lean in ILPC. That is a good fundament for this book project. Also this year there was a special stream about lean.
We shall collect cases in a serious way, and present them in a transparent and honest way, and I am sure that in so doing we will be able to show that another world of work is possible.
I hope many of you in the ilpc network will consider participating in such a project, and that you let me know your interest, cases you think of and also ideas of how to modify and develop the project and its framework of analysis. Perhaps we could have some papers or even a stream at the next ilpc at Rutgers?
Do not hesitate to contact me about the above project idea, or something else. You will reach me at ake.sandberg [at] sociology.su.se and at www.akesandberg.se. You may download Enriching Production at freyssenet.com or here
Cheers / Åke
While editing this gallery and adding new photos all captions and longer descriptions disappeared, and the layout of the page was all mixed up. Anyone who knows wordpress editing, please contact ‘webmaster’ email@example.com on how to move around pictures and make a nice layout. – The captions I just managed!