The Flip Side of Organized Decentralization: Company-Level Bargaining in Denmark


  • Anna Ilsøe is at the University of Copenhagen.


The Danish collective bargaining system is often considered a good example of organized decentralization. It has been characterized as a centralized decentralization suggesting a reproduction of sector-level bargaining relations at company level. A recent survey on company-level bargaining in the Danish industrial sector confirms this hypothesis with regard to the experiences of local managers and shop stewards. However, part of the survey also questions whether the reproduction will continue in the future. Small- and medium-sized enterprises and their employees tend to miss out on the mutual benefits obtained through company-level agreements. Furthermore, shop stewards often find it difficult to gain employee support during negotiations, which jeopardizes their bargaining relations with management.