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Institutional change in the German wage bargaining system: The role of big companies


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  • Hassel, Anke
  • Rehder, Britta
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    Despite the emergence of new production systems, Europeanization and economic internationalization, the national arrangements of wage bargaining systems have not been eroded. The paper highlights the factors that counteract the pressures for a straightforward decentralization with reference to Germany. Firstly, the maintenance of peaceful labour relations is a major advantage for big companies in centralized wage bargaining systems. Secondly, big companies have been able to achieve labour cost control and the differentiation of working conditions by drawing up pacts for employment and competitiveness at the company level. Thirdly, they have succeeded in introducing a higher degree of flexibility into the collective agreement framework. The main argument will be that institutional change has taken other forms than expected. Whereas the formal institutional setting has remained relatively stable, the functioning of the German wage bargaining system has changed. -- Trotz der Verbreitung neuer Produktionssysteme, der Europäisierung und der wirtschaftlichen Internationalisierung sind nationale Tarifverhandlungssysteme in den meisten Ländern stabil geblieben. Dieses Working Paper hebt am Beispiel Deutschlands die Faktoren hervor, die dem Dezentralisierungsdruck entgegen wirken. Für Großunternehmen ist auch unter veränderten Bedingungen die Vermeidung von Konflikten einer der Hauptvorteile zentraler Tarifverhandlungssysteme. In dem gegebenen institutionellen Rahmen haben Unternehmen Möglichkeiten gefunden, über Standortsicherungsvereinbarungen auf Unternehmensebene die Arbeitsorganisation zu flexibilisieren und Arbeitskosten zu senken. Zudem konnten sie Tarifverträge flexibler gestalten und Öffnungsmöglichkeiten einfügen. Als Ergebnis wird festgehalten, dass institutionelle Veränderungen andere Formen angenommen haben als erwartet. Während die formalen institutionellen Rahmenbedingungen verhältnismäßig stabil geblieben sind, hat sich die Funktionsweise des deutschen Tarifverhandlungssystems verändert.

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    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in its series MPIfG Working Paper with number 01/9.

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    Date of creation: 2001
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgw:019

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    Cited by:
    1. Gregory Jackson & Martin Hopner & Antje Kurdelbusch, 2004. "Corporate Governance and Employees in Germany: Changing Linkages, Complementarities, and Tensions," Discussion papers 04008, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    2. Anke Hassel, 2014. "Adjustments in the Eurozone: Varieties of Capitalism and the Crisis in Southern Europe," LEQS – LSE 'Europe in Question' Discussion Paper Series 76, European Institute, LSE.
    3. Damiani, Mirella & Pompei, Fabrizio, 2009. "Labour protection and productivity in the European economies: 1995-2005," MPRA Paper 12710, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Eichhorst, Werner & Marx, Paul, 2009. "Reforming German Labor Market Institutions: A Dual Path to Flexibility," IZA Discussion Papers 4100, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Wolfgang Ochel, 2003. "Decentralising Wage Bargaining in Germany – A Way to Increase Employment?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1069, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Lütz, Susanne, 2003. "Governance in der politischen Ökonomie," MPIfG Discussion Paper 03/5, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    7. Anke Hassel, 2014. "Adjustments in the Eurozone: Varieties of Capitalism and the Crisis in Southern Europe," Europe in Question Discussion Paper Series of the London School of Economics (LEQs) 6, London School of Economics / European Institute.
    8. Lutz Bellmann & Knut Gerlach & Wolfgang Meyer, 2008. "Company-Level Pacts for Employment," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, vol. 228(5+6), pages 533-553, December.
    9. Christian Dustmann & Bernd Fitzenberger & Uta Schönberg & Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2014. "From Sick Man of Europe to Economic Superstar: Germany's Resurgent Economy," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1406, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    10. Wolfgang Ochel, 2005. "Dezentralisierung der Lohnverhandlungen in Deutschland - ein Weg zu mehr Beschäftigung?," Ifo Schnelldienst, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 58(05), pages 07-18, 03.
    11. Bellmann, Lutz & Gerner, Hans-Dieter & Hübler, Olaf, 2013. "Investment under Company-Level Pacts," IZA Discussion Papers 7195, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).


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