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Innovation, workers skills and industrial relations: Empirical evidence from firm-level Italian data

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  • Antonioli, Davide
  • Manzalini, Rocco
  • Pini, Paolo

Abstract

The shifting of labour demand toward relatively more skilled workers has been a hot issue in the economic field for many years. A consolidated explanation for the upskilling phenomenon is that technological-organisational changes have driven the labour demand with detrimental consequences for less skilled workers (skill-biased technological-organisational change). In order to upgrade the skill workforce the firm has at least two main channels at its disposal: the external labour market strategy, mainly based on hiring and firing mechanisms; the internal labour market strategies, which improve the skill base of the employees through training activities. The main objective of the present work is to verify the relations between innovative strategies and both the workforce composition and the training activities, within an integrated framework that also leads us to consider the role of specific aspects of the industrial relations system. The firm level analysis is based on original datasets which include data on manufacturing firms for two Italian local production systems, located in the Emilia-Romagna region. The results suggest that the firms use both the two channels to improve their skill base, which is actually related to the innovation activities, although there is weak supporting evidence of the use of external labour markets to upgrade the workforce skills: the upskilling phenomenon seems to be associated to specific innovative activities in the technological sphere, while specific organisational aspects emerge as detrimental for blue collars. On the side of internal labour market strategies the evidence supports the hypothesis that innovation intensity induces the firms to implement internal procedures in order to upskill the workforce, confirming the importance of internal labour market strategies. Moreover, we have recognized the important role of firm level industrial relations in determining the training activities for the blue collar workers.

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  • Antonioli, Davide & Manzalini, Rocco & Pini, Paolo, 2011. "Innovation, workers skills and industrial relations: Empirical evidence from firm-level Italian data," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 312-326, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:40:y:2011:i:3:p:312-326
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    Cited by:

    1. Roberto Antonietti, 2016. "From outsourcing to productivity, passing through training: microeconometric evidence from Italy," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, pages 407-425.
    2. Beblavý, Miroslav & Thum, Anna-Elisabeth & Potjagailo, Galina, 2013. "When do adults learn? A cohort analysis of adult education in Europe," CEPS Papers 8059, Centre for European Policy Studies.
    3. Sandra Silva & Jorge Valente & Aurora Teixeira, 2012. "An evolutionary model of industry dynamics and firms’ institutional behavior with job search, bargaining and matching," Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination, Springer;Society for Economic Science with Heterogeneous Interacting Agents, pages 23-61.
    4. Sandra T. Silva & Jorge M. S. Valente & Aurora A. C. Teixeira, 2007. "An evolutionary model of industry dynamics and firms' institutional behavior with job search, bargaining and matching," FEP Working Papers 241, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    5. Roberto Antonietti, 2016. "From outsourcing to productivity, passing through training: microeconometric evidence from Italy," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, pages 407-425.
    6. Antonioli, Davide & Mazzanti, Massimiliano, 2017. "Towards a green economy through innovations: The role of trade union involvement," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 286-299.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Technological change Organisational change Industrial relations Skills;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J53 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Labor-Management Relations; Industrial Jurisprudence
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production
    • L6 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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