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Labour co-determination and corporate governance in Germany: The economic impact of marginal and symbolic rights

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  • Sadowski, Dieter
  • Junkes, Joachim
  • Lindenthal, Sabine
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    Abstract

    For decades, some governments have fiercely opposed any statute of the Societas Europaea that foresaw German-type co-determined supervisory boards. Considering firms as pools of specific investors, we ask about the conditions that are necessary to secure the interests of specific human capitalists in an efficient way, if the real capital owners' right to residual control does not solve the ex-post bargaining problems over the sharing of quasi-rents. We disregard contract-theoretic approaches as solutions to the ex-post bargaining conflicts and suggest a constitutional approach to this major problem in the theory of the firm. From a constitutional perspective, the (non-executive) board members of the German Aufsichtsrat (Supervisory Board) - unlike the Betriebsrat (Works Council) - essentially dispose only of marginal, extremely symbolic, i.e., non-enforceable rights to represent worker investors. Legally, however, these rights are to be used first in the interests of the corporation and only secondarily in the interests of partial investors. Marginal and symbolic rights as well as fiduciary duties will make a difference in distributive bargaining, if they are legally imposed. Who is to be heard and to be involved in decision-making and what is counted as a legitimate argument or action - these are basically questions of political culture that in principle leave room for efficient international diversity. Option rights in the European directive on the Societas Europaea should thus be considered as an apt and wise decision. -- Seit Jahrzehnten wehren sich einige Regierungen vehement gegen die Schaffung einer Societas Europaea, welche mitbestimmte Aufsichtsräte nach deutschem Muster für europäische Aktiengesellschaften ermöglicht. Indem wir Firmen als Zusammenschluss spezifischer Investoren betrachten, fragen wir nach notwendigen Bedingungen, um die Interessen spezifischer Humankapitalgeber effizient abzusichern, wenn das residuale Kontrollrecht der Finanzkapitalgeber Ex-post-Verhandlungsprobleme über die Aufteilung der Quasirenten nicht zu lösen vermag. Wir sehen von vertragstheoretischen Lösungsansätzen zu Ex-post-Verhandlungsproblemen ab und empfehlen vielmehr eine konstitutionelle Annäherung an dieses Hauptproblem der Unternehmenstheorie. Aus konstitutioneller Sicht verfügen Arbeitnehmervertreter im Aufsichtsrat - im Gegensatz zum Betriebsrat - lediglich über marginale und eher symbolische, d.h. nicht die Interessen der Arbeitnehmerschaft zwingend durchsetzbare Rechte. Aus juristischer Sicht wiederum sollen diese Recht in erster Linie im Interesse des Unternehmens und erst nachrangig zur Durchsetzung von Partialinteressen verschiedener Investorengruppen genutzt werden. Marginale und symbolische Rechte ebenso wie treuhänderische Pflichten verändern die Ergebnisse von Verteilungsverhandlungen, wenn diese Rechte gesetzlich verankert sind. Wer muss gehört oder in den Entscheidungsprozess mit eingebunden werden und was gilt als legitimes Argument oder legitime Handlung - dies sind im Grunde Fragen der politischen Kultur, die im Prinzip Raum für effiziente internationale Vielfalt lassen. Optionsrechte in der europäischen Direktive der Societas Europaea sollten infolgedessen als angemessene und weise Entscheidung angesehen werden.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Institute for Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Community (IAAEG), University of Trier in its series Quint-Essenzen with number 60.

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    Date of creation: 1999
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:iaaegq:60

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    1. Prescott, Edward C & Boyd, John H, 1987. "Dynamic Coalitions: Engines of Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 63-67, May.
    2. Reinhard H. Schmidt & Gerald Spindler, 2002. "Path Dependence, Corporate Governance and Complementarity," Working Paper Series: Finance and Accounting 27, Department of Finance, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.
    3. Jensen, Michael C & Meckling, William H, 1979. "Rights and Production Functions: An Application to Labor-managed Firms and Codetermination," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(4), pages 469-506, October.
    4. Williamson, Oliver E, 1991. "Economic Institutions: Spontaneous and Intentional Governance," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 159-87, Special I.
    5. Larry W. Hunter, 1998. "Can strategic participation be institutionalized? Union representation on American corporate boards," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(4), pages 557-578, July.
    6. repec:att:wimass:9714 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "A Survey of Corporate Governance," NBER Working Papers 5554, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-95, December.
    9. Donald B. Hausch & Yeon-Koo Che, 1999. "Cooperative Investments and the Value of Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 125-147, March.
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