9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN17 Industrial Relations, Labour Market Institutions and Employment

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Trends and Effects of Collective Bargaining Building AA, Auditório Silva Leal

Collective Bargaining, Inter-Sectoral Heterogeneity and Competitiveness: A Cross-National Comparison of Macroeconomic Performance

Research in the performance of bargaining has remained inconclusive, especially with regard to intermediately centralized bargaining. Compared to centralization and decentralization, alleged effects range from inferior to superior performance. This has spurred research in the conditionality of bargaining effects, namely interactions with monetary policy. Accordingly, intermediate bargaining performs well, when strategically interacting with monetary conservatism. However, this synthesis fails to explain why the performance of intermediate bargaining has not declined under EMU. This puzzle points to a general weakness of the literature: neglect of heterogeneity of the bargainers. This paper argues that the performance of bargaining depends on its interaction with competitiveness imperatives rather than monetary policy. These imperatives link to inter-sectoral heterogeneity of bargainers: Since the effects of bargaining on competitiveness depend on coping with productivity differentials between the exposed and sheltered sector, the paper discusses how distinct bargaining structures interact with these differentials. Intermediate coordination by exposed-sector pattern-setting is predicted to be the only bargaining structure which is sensitive to productivity differentials. This hypothesis is tested on time-series data for 18 countries. The findings show the expected impact on labour costs and the current balance, whereas no employment effects are discernible.