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Photo: Antony McAulay

HRM in the Nordic countries

Research project
Active research
Project size
4 288 000 SEK
Project period
2022 - 2024
Project owner
Department of Business Administration, School of Business, Economics and Law

Riksbankens Jubileumsfond

Short description

Millions of people in the Nordic countries are affected by industrial relations at the national level and human resource management (HRM) in organizations. This project will study the dynamics of the Nordic model of HRM by investigating the differences between the Nordic countries, how these are changing over time, and to offer some conclusions about the resilience of the Nordic model in light of Nordic responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. The research team includes people from all five Nordic countries. The quantitative data is to come from the Cranet studies, a standardized longitudinal survey dating back to 1989 which involves over 40 countries. Also qualitative case studies in three industries will be conducted to find out how certain HRM practices have been influenced by and responded to the Covid-19 crisis in all Nordic countries.


The aim of this project is to study the dynamics of the Nordic model of HRM amidst a period of transformational change by investigating the similarities and differences between the Nordic countries, and in relation to other advanced countries in the Western World, and how this is changing over time.

Research questions

The main research questions to be addressed in this project are built around two under-researched perspectives – the longitudinal perspective and the crisis/resilience perspective:

1. What are the distinctive features of HRM and industrial relations in Sweden and the other Nordic countries, and how are these changing over time?
a) To what extent do we observe greater similarities (convergence), differences (divergence) or little change (stasis) within the Nordics, and compared to other key benchmark countries around the world – and what key factors are driving this?
b) To what extent has the Covid-19 crisis acted as a catalyst for greater convergence or divergence, and how?
c) What distinctive features are likely to characterize the Nordic model in the future?

2. What conclusions can be drawn about the resilience of the Nordic model of industrial relations and HRM in light of Nordic responses to the Covid-19 pandemic?
a) How have comparable organisations in Sweden and the other Nordic countries responded to the crisis via their HRM practices e.g. furloughing, downsizing, remote working, and leadership?
b) In what ways might the Nordic countries, and their respective organizations, be able to learn from each other in how to become more resilient, and serve as a role model to other countries around the world?

Research team

Stefan Tengblad, project leader, professor in Human Resource Management, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Paul Gooderham, professor in International Management, Norges Handelshøyskole, Norway

Adam Smale, professor of Management and Business Administration, University of Vaasa, Finland.

Frans Bevort, associate professor of Organization, Copenhagen Business School, Denmar

Ali Kazemi, professor in Work and Organizational Psychology, University West, Sweden.

Arney Einarsdottir, associate professor in HRM, Bifröst University, Iceland.

Henrik Holt Larsen, professor  Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.