Unions and Establishment Performance: Evidence from the British Workplace Industrial/Employee Relations Surveys

39 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2002

See all articles by John T. Addison

John T. Addison

University of South Carolina - Moore School of Business - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Clive R. Belfield

Columbia University Teachers' College - National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education

Date Written: March 2002

Abstract

An interesting aspect of British research on unions based on the Workplace Industrial/Employment Relations Surveys has been the apparent shift in union impact on establishment performance in the decade of the 1990s compared with the 1980s and the recent scramble to explain the phenomenon. In this contribution, we chart these changes along the dimensions of financial performance, labor productivity, employment, quits, absenteeism, industrial relations climate, and plant closings. Using the most recent workplace survey, we also investigate the controversial notion that union influence is positive where unions are strong and is negative where unions are weak. This notion, encountered in recent research in Britain (and Germany), emphasizes the benefits of the collective voice of unions, arguing that this voice is only 'heard' when the union is strong or a credible agent. We examine this contention for a fuller array of definitions of union influence and workplace performance measures. Overall, our discussion reveals some evidence that is consistent with reduced bargaining power in the wake of anti-union reform measures and heightened product market competition. On the other hand, there is little support for the recherche notion that stronger unions have a beneficial impact, yet weaker ones do not.

Keywords: Union Strength, Hierarchy of Effects, Financial Performance, Labor Productivity, Employment Change, Quits, Absenteeism, Plant Closings, Employee Attitudes

JEL Classification: J24, J51, J53, J58, J63, J65

Suggested Citation

Addison, John T. and Belfield, Clive R., Unions and Establishment Performance: Evidence from the British Workplace Industrial/Employee Relations Surveys (March 2002). IZA Discussion Paper No. 455. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=306288

John T. Addison (Contact Author)

University of South Carolina - Moore School of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

The Francis M. Hipp Building
1705 College Street
Columbia, SC 29208
United States
803-777-7400 (Phone)
803-777-6876 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://mooreschool.sc.edu/moore/economics/profiles/addison.htm

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

Clive R. Belfield

Columbia University Teachers' College - National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education ( email )

525 W. 120th St.
New York, NY 10027
United States

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