IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

The Effect of Unions on Productivity: U.S. Surface Mining of Coal

Listed author(s):
  • Patricia Byrnes

    (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514)

  • Rolf Färe

    (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514)

  • Shawna Grosskopf

    (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514)

  • C. A. Knox Lovell

    (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514)

The purpose of this paper is to compare the abilities of two competing analytical techniques---mathematical programming and statistical regression---to shed light on the union/nonunion productivity differential in U.S. surface coal mining. The programming approach has the virtues of being nonparametric (and thus extremely flexible) and of being able to provide a decomposition of productivity differentials into three components---differences in technical efficiency, differences in scale efficiency, and differences in congestion. Identification of these three components provides an aid to management in its search for the sources of, and remedies for, productivity gaps. The econometric approach, on the other hand, is neither flexible nor does it provide such a decomposition; its chief virtue lies in the fact that, being stochastic, it allows for the presence of noise and measurement error that plagues most if not all empirical data. Thus, the two approaches have complementary virtues. The two techniques are used to investigate productivity in two samples of U.S. surface coal mines. The programming approach finds a large and significant positive union/nonunion productivity differential. This differential is due primarily to greater congestion occurring in the smaller nonunion mines in one sample, and to scale inefficiency in the smaller nonunion mines in the other sample. The econometric analysis finds nearly the same union/nonunion productivity differential, but sheds no light on the composition of, and thus the cure for, the differential.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

Volume (Year): 34 (1988)
Issue (Month): 9 (September)
Pages: 1037-1053

in new window

Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:34:y:1988:i:9:p:1037-1053
Contact details of provider: Postal:
7240 Parkway Drive, Suite 300, Hanover, MD 21076 USA

Phone: +1-443-757-3500
Fax: 443-757-3515
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:34:y:1988:i:9:p:1037-1053. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mirko Janc)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.