Transparency and Transmission: Theorizing Information's Role in Regulatory and Market Responses to Workplace Problems
43 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2016 Last revised: 10 Apr 2016
Date Written: November 1, 2015
This Essay develops a comprehensive theory of the role of information in regulatory and market responses to workplace problems. Existing legal and economic scholarship has focused narrowly on transparency mandates that reveal facts about the hidden conditions of work - for example, the health risks to which workers are exposed without their knowledge, or undisclosed pay differentials between men and women. Scholars and policymakers assume that when employers are required to reveal this information, regulators, outside interest groups, and workers themselves will penalize bad actor employers via the market, regulation, or rights-enforcing litigation. However, information about the hidden conditions of work is not self-actuating. Regulatory and market responses depend on additional layers of information - information about context, process, incentives, and the probability and magnitude of other actors' regulatory and market responses - all of which have been largely ignored in the literature. Accordingly, this Essay offers a typology of the information that may support rights-enforcing and market responses to workplace problems. It then surveys existing transparency mandates to determine the extent to which each type of information is currently made available in the workplace. The Essay concludes by mapping out topics for further research, including the First Amendment implications of drafting employers into the role of information transmitters and the empirical question of how best to design workplace transparency mandates to accomplish their goals.
Keywords: employment, workers, employment law, labor market, information, transparency
JEL Classification: J20, J28, K31, K32, M12, M50
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation