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Agency work and commitment.

Research project
Inactive research
Project size
3 400 000
Project period
2009 - 2012
Project owner
Department of Sociology and Work Science

Forte: The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Short description

The use of agency workers and the effects on commitment of permanent staff and agency workers in Sweden, Holland and the UK

Legalised in 1993, the use of agency workers is a relatively new phenomenon is Sweden. Temporary agency work has increased rapidly in most OECD countries, including Sweden, during the last two decades. In the Netherlands and in the UK, where temporary work agencies have existed for several decades, a considerable increase in the number of agency workers took place in the 1990s and stabilised in the 2000s. The proportion of agency workers accounts for around one or two per cent of all workers in most EU countries. The impact of agency work on the labour market should not, however, be underestimated. Even though the proportion of agency workers is low, the proportion of workplaces using agency workers is considerable,

The aim of this project is to analyse and explain how the use of agency work affects commitment of permanent staff in user firms and commitment among agency workers themselves.

1) How does the use of agency workers affect the organisational commitment among employees in user firms? How do the extent of the use of agency workers and the level of integration of agency workers affect the organisational commitment?

2) What determines commitment among agency workers? How, for example, do the hiring pattern, the level of integration of agency workers in the user firm, and prior or observed layoff experiences affect the organisational commitment?

3) What is the role of the first line managers at the agency and at the user firm in influencing agency workers’ commitment?

4) How does commitment differ among agency workers in countries with different labour market regimes?

Methodologically we will use three different types of methods: interviews and observations at workplaces using agency workers; a survey of agency workers and permanent employees at workplaces using agency workers; and a survey of agency workers in two or three work agencies in Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK.


Kristina Håkansson, project leader
Tommy Isidorsson
Steve Jeffreys, Professor, Working Life Research Institute, London Metropolitan University
Nicole Torka, Assistant Professor, University of Twente, Holland