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Individual wage setting in practice - a comparative study of the significance and application of wage criteria in different sectors

"Equal pay for equal work" has been the norm in Swedish wage setting. However, today there are elements of individual wage setting in most sectors – with broad support from employers, unions and employees. Individual wage setting is advocated as a way to achieve business goals; to enhance productivity; to influence wage through performance; to increase motivation, etc. Individual wage setting is assumed to provide objective and fair wages – i.e. rewards in relation to competence, performance, and market value.

Previous research has, however, discerned problems: Firstly, there is no solid evidence that individual wage setting motivate employees. Secondly, there are doubts about whether the valuations are done objectively and transparent with reliable methods. In addition, there is a lack of comparative studies of individual wage setting in different sectors, at different levels and by different actors.

The project studies how assessments of qualifications, competencies and performance are done in five cases – from policy to practice: how policies and criteria are designed, perceived, interpreted and practiced by HR, managers, union representatives and employees. The aim is to describe interpretation and valuation processes in local wage setting, to identify and understand actors' various arguments, and to explain variations that affect the design and implementation, and whether the process is perceived as objective, consistent and transparent.
The study is oriented by the following questions: Which actors are involved in the articulation of wage policies and criteria? What qualities, skills, and practices are valued, and does it vary depending on context and actors? How are policies and criteria translated to practice when they are used, interpreted and implemented? What spaces of interpretation and what implementation difficulties arise in the processes? What power relations can be distinguished, and how can they affect local valuation and translation processes.

Funding: VR, The Swedish Research Council.
Project leader: Prof. Bengt Larsson, Dept. of sociology and work science, Bengt.larsson@socav.gu.se
Project members:
Ass. Prof. Ylva Ulfsdotter Eriksson, Dept. of sociology and work science
Ass. Prof. Petra Adolfsson, Dept. of Business administration

Page Manager: Anders Östebo|Last update: 5/17/2018

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