UK Trades Unions and the Problems of Collective Action
32 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2016
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: Suggested Citation