Human Resource Management in the Nordic Context

Frans Bévort, Arney Einarsdottir

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The Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, stand out as comparably affluent, competitive, low-inequality, and highly regulated welfare societies. This is not least the case in the unique way labor markets are regulated in highly collaborative arrangements in which employers, employees, and the state historically have found balances of power and interests. The chapter discusses how this specific institutional context affects the evolution of human resource management (HRM) practices. Arguably, many HRM areas are affected directly by this context: for example, questions of employment, education, and healthcare are often solved at a societal level rather than at the organizational HRM level. First, the Nordic social model and HRM ideology are reviewed. Then, the limits of the claim that the Nordic countries form a cluster with very similar attributes in relation to HRM is discussed by examining some of the characteristics and differences for each country. Furthermore, data from the International Cranet survey are used to compare and highlight commonalities and differences characterizing HRM practices in the Nordic countries. Nordic HRM operates on the back of an existing collaborative labor market and a social model where deep-rooted egalitarian values and harmony of interests thrive. The chapter shows how this context affects the status of HRM and HRM practices in the five Nordic countries.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Contextual Approaches to Human Resource Management
EditorsEmma Parry , Michael J. Morley , Chris Brewster
Number of pages30
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)9780190861162
ISBN (Electronic)9780190861186
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Nordic HRM
  • Collaborative HRM
  • Strategic HRM
  • Welfare state
  • Stakeholders

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