Rebellion Against Reason? A Study of Expressive Choice and Strikes

CER-ETH – Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich Working Paper 12/162

28 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2012

See all articles by Christa N. Brunnschweiler

Christa N. Brunnschweiler

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) - Department of Economics; University of Oxford - OxCarre

Colin Jennings

Queen's College

Ian A. MacKenzie

University of Queensland - School of Economics

Date Written: June 18, 2012

Abstract

In this paper we challenge the conventional view that strikes are caused by asymmetric information regarding firm profitability such that union members are uninformed. Instead, we build an expressive model of strikes where the perception of unfairness provides the expressive benefit of voting for a strike. The model predicts that larger union size increases both wage offers and the incidence of strikes. Furthermore, while asymmetric information is still important in causing strikes, we find that it is the employer who is not fully informed about the level of emotionality within the union, thereby contributing to strike incidence. An empirical test using UK data provides support for the predictions. In particular, union size has a positive effect on the incidence of strikes and other industrial actions even when asymmetric information regarding profitability is controlled for.

Keywords: Strikes, expressive voting

JEL Classification: D03, D72, J52

Suggested Citation

Brunnschweiler, Christa N. and Jennings, Colin and MacKenzie, Ian A., Rebellion Against Reason? A Study of Expressive Choice and Strikes (June 18, 2012). CER-ETH – Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich Working Paper 12/162, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2086455 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2086455

Christa N. Brunnschweiler

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) - Department of Economics ( email )

N-7491 Trondheim
Norway

University of Oxford - OxCarre ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Colin Jennings

Queen's College ( email )

Oxford
United Kingdom

Ian A. MacKenzie (Contact Author)

University of Queensland - School of Economics ( email )

Brisbane, QLD 4072
Australia

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