Demougin et al. (2018) argue that employer organizations have adapted to changing socio-economic contexts by developing within and across three different roles, namely the role as industrial actor, political actor and service provider. In this paper, we make use of the analyses by Demougin et al. in order to look into the role of Norwegian employer organisations (N-EO). As in other countries, N-EOs were funded as a way to counteract the power of the emerging trade union movement around 1900. While the role as an industrial actor was predominant the in the first period, the organisations role as a political actor was important in relation to the establishment of labour market institutions. Within the Norwegian labour market model, N-EO still play an important role in wage determination through the strongly coordinated collective bargaining model. This could indicate that the role as a service provider would be less important in a Norwegian setting. However, members of N-EOs are not obligated to be part of collective agreements, and the EO-density rate is increasing whereas collective agreement coverage has declined.
In this paper we make use of a survey among private sector employers as well as qualitative interviews with employees in N-EO, in order to investigate what roles are the most important for Norwegian employer organisations. Furthermore, whether variations between the different organisations can be understood in light of member preferences, their position in the collective bargaining system or other factors.