Explaining Bargaining Behaviour and Outcomes through an Articulation Index
Sociology Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona Cerdanyola del Valles, Spain
For many years industrial relations scholars have focused on the degree of centralization and coordination as the most important indexes explaining the configuration and outcomes of collective bargaining structures. Notwithstanding the theoretical and empirical significance of these variables there are some problems which haven't been properly addressed in quantitative analyses. On the one side, centralization only refers to the predominant locus of negotiation among social partners, hence providing little information about the type of relations among levels. Similarly, the coordination index refers mostly to the particular mechanism underlying the negotiation of wage agreements in the economy. As a consequence it doesn't provide informatino about the effective impact these agreements have once they're signed, i..e, the degree to which coordination at one level replicates at all levels in the bargaining structure. This paper explores the significance and explanatory capacity of an articulation index that could complement existing indicators and overcome some of their limitations. The concept of articulation has been used by many authors as a variable that explains the configuration of multi-level bargaining systems by looking at the relations linking different levels within a bargaining structure or organization. Notwithstanding its theoretical importance, articulation has been seldom used in cross-country comparative studies due to operationalization / quantification problems. An attempt is made here to construct an articulation index that not only incorporates the distribution of tasks within multi-level bargaining systems (external dimension), but most importantly it also contemplates the mechanisms driving decision-making within organizations (internal dimension) within a synthetic index. It accordingly echoes the recent calls made by some authors to consider the behaviour of agents as well as the configuration of bargaining structures in order to explain its outcomes.