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Trading Places: Employers, Unions and the Manufacture of Voice

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Author Info

  • Alex Bryson
  • Rafael Gomez
  • P Willman

Abstract

Using nationally representative workplace data for Britain we show that over the last quarter century union voice - especially union-only voice - has been associated with poorer climate, more industrial action, poorer financial performance and poorer labour productivity than nonunion voice and, in particular, direct voice. On the other hand, union-based voice regimes have experienced lower quit rates than non-union and "no voice" regimes, as theory predicts. Over that time, while the workplace incidence of voice has remained constant, with roughly 8 workplaces out of 10 providing some form of voice, there has been a big shift from union to non-union voice, particularly direct employer-made voice. Thus employers are prepared generally to bear the costs of voice provision and manifest a reluctance to engage with their workforce without voice mechanisms in place. The associations between non-union voice mechanisms and desirable workplace outcomes suggest that these costs may be lower than the benefits voice generates.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0884.

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Date of creation: Aug 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0884

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Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

Related research

Keywords: worker voice; trade unions; quits; employment relations; labour productivity; financial performance; industrial action;

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References

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  1. Paul Willman & Alex Bryson, 2007. "Union organization in Great Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19762, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Stephen Machin & Stephen Wood, 2005. "Human resource management as a substitute for trade unions in British workplaces," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 58(2), pages 201-218, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Erling Barth & Alex Bryson & Harald Dale-Olsen, 2009. "How Does Innovation Affect Worker Well-being?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0953, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.

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