Stern, C. & Weidenstedt, L. (in press). Managers on balancing employment protection and what’s good for the company: Intended and un-intended consequences of a semi-coercive institution. Economic and Industrial Democracy.


Sweden’s institutionalized employment protection legislation, ‘LAS’, is interesting theoretically because parts of it are semi-coercive. The semi-coerciveness makes it possible for firms and unions under collective agreements to negotiate departures from the law. Thus, the law is more flexible than the legal text suggests. The present study explores intended and unintended consequences of LAS as experienced by managers of smaller manufacturing companies. The results suggest that managers support the idea of employment protection in principle but face a difficult balancing act in dealing with LAS. From their point of view, the legislation’s institutional legitimacy is low, producing local cultures of hypocrisy and pretense. The article gives insights into how institutions aimed at specific, intended behavior sometimes end up producing unintended consequences fostering the opposite.