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Globalisation and union opposition to technological change

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  • Lommerud, Kjell Erik
  • Meland, Frode
  • Straume, Odd Rune

Abstract

We find that trade unions have a rational incentive to oppose the adaption of labour-saving technology when labour demand is inelastic and unions care much for employment relative to wages. Trade liberalisation typically increases trade union technology opposition. These conclusions are reached in a model of international duopoly with monopoly wage setting in one of the countries, and two-way trade. An important stepping stone for the result is to note that even though trade liberalisation means a tougher competitive environment for firms, labour demand tends to increase. We also find that the incentive for technology opposition is stronger in the more technologically advanced country and in the country with the larger home market, complementing earlier explanations for technological catch-up and leapfrogging. -- Es wird gezeigt, dass Gewerkschaften einen rationalen Anreiz haben, sich gegen die Einführung von arbeitssparendem technologischen Fortschritt zu wehren, wenn die Arbeitsnachfrage unelastisch ist und den Gewerkschaften das Beschäftigungsniveau im Vergleich zur Lohnhöhe relativ wichtig ist. Handelsliberalisierung verschärft typischerweise diesen Widerstand gegen neue Technologien. Diese Schlussfolgerungen werden abgeleitet in einem internationalen Duopolmodell. Dabei werden in einem Land die Löhne kollektiv festgelegt und es findet internationaler Handel statt. Zentral für die Einsicht des Modells ist die Tatsache, dass der internationale Handel zwar den Wettbewerb zwischen den Unternehmen verstärkt, sich aber positiv auf die Arbeitsnachfrage auswirkt. Auch zeigt sich, dass der Widerstand gegen neue Technologien im technologisch fortgeschritteneren Land stärker ist, sowie in dem Land mit größerem Heimatmarkt. Dies liefert eine zusätzliche Erklärung für technologische Aufholprozesse und wechselnde Technologieführerschaft.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance with number SP II 2003-18.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbmpg:spii200318

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Keywords: Trade liberalisation; technology adaption; international unionised oligopoly;

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References

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