Industrial relations under global stress (completed)

- fragmentation and the potential for representation of workers in the Norwegian hospitality sector

About the project

The proposed research project seeks to understand social relations in the Norwegian hospitality sector. The relationships between employers and employees, and between different groups of employees and their representatives, are shaped by globalisation, economic restructuring and international labour migration. The research will address how these processes of social inclusion and exclusion affect workers ability to influence employment and other work issues.

A key ambition behind this project is to examine how global stress affects the ability of organised labour to represent the diversity represented by the Norwegian hospitality sector? By focusing on a sector dominated by women and migrant workers - characterised by low wages, low unionisation rates and precarious forms of employment - this project will challenge our understanding of the Nordic model” of industrial relations, both in terms of its normative sustainability and its ability to adapt to a globalising world.

The Hotel Worker Project

At the centre of the theoretical framework are recent advances in human geography exploring the new geographies of work: both from the employer side, through flexibilisation, outsourcing and human resource management, and from the labour side, through the challenges of fragmentation, social partnership and multicultural integration in the sector. Moreover, the potential for representation of workers in this sector will be examined both at the level of the workplace and in industrial relations in the sector.

Based on both quantitative and qualitative research methods, the project is designed as four independent, but mutually informative, work packages: a quantitative study of hotel workplaces in the Oslo region will be combined with 5 qualitative workplace studies in Oslo and a Norwegian mountain resort, and interviews with union officials and corporate management.


Primary objective

Examine processes of social exclusion in the hospitality sector in Norway through the lens of fragmentation, and analyse these in relation to international patterns of labour migration, corporate restructuring and union renewal.

Secondary objectives

Map hospitality employment relations in the Oslo region, in order to analyse the relations between social indicators, union membership and employment status.

Analyse social fragmentation in selected hotel work places, and examine the strategies of employees to engage with employment issues and the ability of unions to represent a diverse workforce.

Analyse corporate strategies offlexibilisation in the sector, and examine how this affects the relations between hotel management, labour hire agencies and organised labour.

Contrast the Oslo case with fieldwork- and literature-based case studies from 4 Anglo-American city regions with regard to organising strategies, unionisation rate and social partnership arrangements.


This project are financed by the Norwegian Reseach Council and led by Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR). The project are a cooperation between NIBR, Department of Sociology and Human Geography and several other institutions.

Professor Hege M. Knutsen and Ass. Professor Sylvi B. Endresen from the Department of Sociology and Human Geography is responsible for the management of Work Package 3 (WP3); research activities, analysis and dissemination of results from WP3, coordinating the institutional affiliation of research assistant in WP2 and the academic input of master students in WP3.

The project period is September 2009 - December 2012.

The project has its own website:


Published Sep. 2, 2010 11:10 AM - Last modified Apr. 25, 2016 12:37 PM


Visiting address

Moltke Moes street 31
Harriet Holters building
2nd floor

Postal address

P.O. Box 1096 Blindern
0317 Oslo

Phone and e-mail

22 85 52 57 (phone)