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Technology resistance and globalisation with trade unions: the choice between employment protection and flexicurity

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We analyse how different labour market institutions — employment protection versus ‘flexicurity’ — affect technology adoption in unionised firms. The analysis is cast in a setting of corporate globalisation, where domestic unionised labour face the double threat of labour-saving technological innovations and international outsourcing of domestic production. In the main part of the analysis, we analyse trade unions’ incentives to oppose or endorse the adoption of new technology. Our main result is that both weaker employment protection and a higher reservation wage for unionsed workers (interpreted as increased ‘flexicurity’) contribute to making trade unions more willing to accept labour-saving technological change. Furthermore, these effects are reinforced by globalisation. In an extension to the main analysis, we endogenise the technological progress by studying firms’ incentives to invest in new technology and find that these incentives are also generally strengthened in a labour market with more ‘flexicurity’.

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Paper provided by NIPE - Universidade do Minho in its series NIPE Working Papers with number 25/2007.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:nip:nipewp:25/2007

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Keywords: Technology adoption; Globalisation; Trade unions; Employment protection; Flexicurity;

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  1. Andrea Ichino & Regina T. Riphahn, 2001. "The Effect of Employment Protection on Worker Effort. A Comparison of Absenteeism During and After Probation," CESifo Working Paper Series 596, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Haucap, Justus & Wey, Christian, 2003. "Unionization Structures and Innovation Incentives," CEPR Discussion Papers 4079, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Sebastian Kessing, 2004. "Employment Protection And Product Market Competition," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2004 50, Royal Economic Society.
  4. Oswald, Andrew J, 1985. " The Economic Theory of Trade Unions: An Introductory Survey," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 87(2), pages 160-93.
  5. Hassler, John & Rodríguez Mora, José Vicente, 2007. "Unemployment insurance design: inducing moving and retraining," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 0702, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
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  7. Lommerud, Kjell Erik & Meland, Frode & Straume, Odd Rune, 2005. "Globalization and Union Opposition to Technological Change," CEPR Discussion Papers 4836, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Gerda Dewit & Dermot Leahy & Catia Montagna, 2003. "Employment protection and globalisation in dynamic oligopoly," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n1200103, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  9. Bentolila, Samuel & Bertola, Giuseppe, 1990. "Firing Costs and Labour Demand: How Bad Is Eurosclerosis?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 381-402, July.
  10. Moene, Karl Ove & Wallerstein, Michael, 1997. "Pay Inequality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 403-30, July.
  11. Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 1999. "Productivity Gains from Unemployment Insurance," Working papers 99-29, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  12. Dowrick, Steve & Spencer, Barbara J, 1994. "Union Attitudes to Labor-Saving Innovation: When Are Unions Luddites?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 316-44, April.
  13. Staiger, Robert W, 1988. "Organized Labor and the Scope of International Specialization," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 1022-47, October.
  14. Tito Boeri & J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Vincenzo Galasso, 2006. "The Political Economy of Flexicurity," Working Papers 2006-15, FEDEA.
  15. Calabuig, Vicente & Gonzalez-Maestre, Miguel, 2002. "Union structure and incentives for innovation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 177-192, March.
  16. Lazear, Edward P, 1990. "Job Security Provisions and Employment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 699-726, August.
  17. Agell, Jonas & Lommerud, Kjell Erik, 1993. " Egalitarianism and Growth," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 95(4), pages 559-79, December.
  18. Manning, Alan, 1987. "An Integration of Trade Union Models in a Sequential Bargaining Framework," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(385), pages 121-39, March.
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