Labor in the Boardroom

126 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2019

See all articles by Simon Jäger

Simon Jäger

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Benjamin Schoefer

University of California, Berkeley

Joerg Heining

Government of the Federal Republic of Germany - Institute for Employment Research (IAB)

Date Written: November 2019


We estimate the effects of a mandate allocating a third of corporate board seats to workers (shared governance). We study a reform in Germany that abruptly abolished this mandate for certain firms incorporated after August 1994 but locked it in for the older cohorts. In sharp contrast to the canonical hold-up hypothesis – that increasing labor's power reduces owners' capital investment – we find that granting formal control rights to workers raises capital formation. The capital stock, the capital-labor ratio, and the capital share all increase. Shared governance does not raise wage premia or rent sharing. It lowers outsourcing, while moderately shifting employment to skilled labor. Shared governance has no clear effect on profitability, leverage, or costs of debt. Overall, the evidence is consistent with richer models of industrial relations whereby shared governance raises capital by permitting workers to bargain over investment or by institutionalizing communication and repeated interactions between labor and capital.

Institutional subscribers to the NBER working paper series, and residents of developing countries may download this paper without additional charge at

Suggested Citation

Jäger, Simon and Schoefer, Benjamin and Heining, Joerg, Labor in the Boardroom (November 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w26519. Available at SSRN:

Simon Jäger (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Benjamin Schoefer

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Joerg Heining

Government of the Federal Republic of Germany - Institute for Employment Research (IAB) ( email )

Regensburger Str. 104
Nuremberg, 90478

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics