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R&D and Unionism: Comparative Evidence from British Companies and Establishments

Listed author(s):
  • Naercio Menezes-Filho
  • David Ulph
  • John Van Reenen

U.S. research has found that unionization adversely affects research and development investment, consistent with the view that labor unions' rent-seeking activities act as a tax on innovation. In this U.K. study, preliminary analysis of two datasets (a cross-section of plants and a company panel for the years 1983–90) shows the same negative correlation. This correlation completely disappears, however, when controls are included for such factors as cohort effects and the availability of innovative technology in the industry. Moreover, R&D intensity appears to have been higher in enterprises where there were low levels of union density than in those where there was no union presence. Some evidence suggests that the difference between U.K and U.S. results may be due to cross-country differences in the prioritization of non-pay issues in bargaining.

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Article provided by Cornell University, ILR School in its journal Industrial & Labor Relations Review.

Volume (Year): 52 (1998)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 45-63

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Handle: RePEc:sae:ilrrev:v:52:y:1998:i:1:p:45-63
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