Danish flexicurity: preconditions and future prospects

AuthorPer H. Jensen
Published date01 May 2017
Date01 May 2017
Danish flexicurity: preconditions and future
Per H. Jensen
This article argues that Danish exicurity is preconditioned by craft unionism that
has historically been predominant in the Danish trade union movement. It is
furthermore argued that exicurity was on the verge to disappear when it became
famous in the early 2000s, although yet not completely dead.
Over the last 1015 years, the Danish exicurity model has received considerable
attention, not only among researchers but also among policy makers throughout
Europe. Danish exicurity has thus become a central reference point in EUs
employment strategies over the last decade and, more recently, in the EUs 2020
strategy, which is the EUs agenda for growth and jobs for the current decade and
until 2020. Danish exicurity allegedly represents a specic conguration of labour
market institutions allowing for the combination of social justice (high levels of social
protection) and economic efciency (exible labour markets). Danish exicurity thus
ties in with the notion of the European Social Model, which refers to a combination of
economic growth, high standard of living and good work conditions, which is
supposedly an alternative to the US liberal market economy.
The Danish exicurity model is described relatively well in the literature. However,
there is a huge research gap regarding its origins and preconditions. Arguably, some
studies contend that Danish exicurity is preconditioned by corporatist structures, a
social dialogue and mutual trust among the social partners, the Danish collective
bargaining system, and that the Danish economy has been dominated by small-sized
and medium-sized enterprises (Bredgaard, 2013; Jensen, 2012, 2016; Madsen, 2006,
2008). That said, there is some measure of disagreement as to the point in time when
exicurity oated to the surface. Some have argued that the origins of exicurity as a
premeditated choice were introduced by the Danish Social Democratic government in
1993 (e.g. Viebrock and Clasen, 2009), while others claim that exicurity is the
outcome of a lengthy historical development and that it was established without
any preconceived, overall plan (Berg, 2008; Madsen, 2008).
The aim of this article is to contribute to a better understanding of the origins and
preconditions of Danish exicurity. Special focus is on the social actors involved in
Per H. Jensen, Center for Comparative Welfare Studies (CCWS), Aalborg University, Aalborg,
Denmark. Correspondence should be addressed to Per H. Jensen, Center for Comparative Welfare
Studies (CCWS), Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark; email: perh@dps.aau.dk
An earlier version of this article was published in G. Olofsson and S. Hort (2016).
Industrial Relations Journal 48:3, 218230
ISSN 0019-8692
© 2017 Brian Towers (BRITOW) and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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