Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 3 2001, page 65-85.
English resume

Flexibility and solidarity.

New forms of work organisation and their impact on plant level cooperation

Steen Navrbjerg

Flexibility is not a clear-cut concept. Generally, the concept has positive connotations – without justification, one might add. Flexibility is not at all neutral to power relations. Managers often ignore – unconsciously or deliberately – the fact that changes in one kind of flexibility will affect other kinds of flexibility. It is thus a misconception that enhanced flexibility is positive to all social actors. Whenever a new kind of flexibility is introduced – or rather, whenever a new kind of flexibility is given priority in an enterprise – some employees win by the new work organisation, and others lose.

In this paper, the consequences of employing different forms of flexibility is discussed on the basis of five case-studies as references. It is shown that management often has problems foreseeing the intended and unintended effects of changing flexibility schemes on cooperation between management and employees, and on solidarity within the workforce. New flexibility schemes can disrupt as well as strengthen solidarity amongst employees, and new flexibility schemes may generate high trust as well as low trust between management and employees (employee representatives). But the better the parties understand the concepts of flexibility and their interconnections, the better the communication between management and employees becomes.

Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv

(Journal for Working Life)




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in Danish frontpage Nyt om arbejdsliv
editor Jørgen Burchardt