50 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2003
Date Written: August 2003
This paper offers a critical evaluation of the notion of collective voice, advanced by Freeman and Medoff (1984) in their pioneering contribution What Do Unions Do? It takes note of theoretical and empirical work supportive of/consistent with the collective voice/institutional response model, and tracks some development of the model. Equally, although much criticism of What Do Unions Do? has been wide of the mark, there are critical areas in which the model is deficient. These lacunae include, but are not restricted to, the lingering imprecision of collective voice; the problem of bargaining power which calls into question the distinction between collective voice/institutional response and the monopoly face of unionism; the over-emphasis upon worker dissatisfaction; and, relatedly, the neglect of individual voice. The bottom line is that the notion of union voice is urgently in need of restatement if it is to continue to shape research into the economic consequences of unions.
Keywords: unions, collective/individual voice, institutional response, public goods, contract enforcement, high performance work practices, employee involvement
JEL Classification: J51, J53
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation