Labor in the Boardroom

128 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2019 Last revised: 13 Jan 2020

See all articles by Simon Jäger

Simon Jäger

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Benjamin Schoefer

University of California, Berkeley

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 2019

Abstract

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.

Keywords: codetermination, corporate governance, industrial relations, Investments

JEL Classification: J0, J53

Suggested Citation

Jäger, Simon and Schoefer, Benjamin, Labor in the Boardroom (December 2019). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP14151. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3496640

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

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