UK Trades Unions and the Problems of Collective Action

32 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2016

See all articles by Paul Willman

Paul Willman

University of Oxford - Said Business School; University of Oxford - Said Business School

Alex Bryson

UCL ; National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR)

John Forth

City University London - Bayes Business School; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR)

Abstract

This paper looks at the financial resources of trades unions in the UK, both updating previous work and attempting to understand the management of first and second order collective action problems. First order problems refer to the problems of initiating collective action and second order problems refer to the management of collective action organisations. Unions are 'cost disease' organisations in which expenditure outstrips inflation but revenue may not. Their economic model cannot survive without some form of external subsidy. Both aggregate and case study data – from the largest UK union, Unite – are presented to illustrate the cost disease problem and to suggest options for its management.

Keywords: trade unions, collective action

JEL Classification: J51

Suggested Citation

Willman, Paul and Bryson, Alex and Forth, John, UK Trades Unions and the Problems of Collective Action. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10043, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2810454 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2810454

Paul Willman (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

Alex Bryson

UCL ( email )

20 Bedford Way
London, WC1H 0AL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/browse/profile?upi=ABRYS65

National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) ( email )

2 Dean Trench Street
Smith Square
London, SW1P 3HE
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.niesr.ac.uk/staff/staffdetail.php?StaffID=307

John Forth

City University London - Bayes Business School ( email )

United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) ( email )

2 Dean Trench Street
Smith Square
London SW1P 3HE
United Kingdom

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