2 May 2018

Decentralised Bargaining in Denmark and Australia: Voluntarism versus Legal Regulation

This article compares the decentralisation of Danish and Australian systems of industrial relations in recent decades. Despite significant differences in historical starting points and trajectories, which reflect different political economies, both have made the transition from a largely centralised to a more decentralised system. However, there are important differences in the means by which these developments occurred and the extent of change in the basic character of industrial relations in each country. The Australian system has placed greater emphasis than the Danish on a legalistic approach to labour-market regulation and enforceability of employment contracts. The Danish system has retained much of its voluntaristic social-partnership approach, subject to a complicated interplay between collective agreements and legislation, as well as European Union (EU) regulations. The article examines the degree to which the changes in each country are examples of 'path dependency', insofar as they are the products of historical legacies.

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