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How Credible Is Trade Union Research? Forty Years of Evidence on the Monopoly–Voice Trade-Off


  • Hristos Doucouliagos
  • Richard B. Freeman
  • Patrice Laroche
  • T. D. Stanley


This article is the second in a series to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the ILR Review. The series features articles that analyze the state of research and future directions for important themes this journal has featured over many years of publication. In this article, the authors assess the credibility of research that has tested the theoretical contests between the monopoly and the collective voice model of unions developed by Freeman and Medoff in What Do Unions Do? The authors go beyond prior analyses by examining more than 2,000 estimates that consider the effects of unions on a broad range of organizational and individual outcomes, including productivity, productivity growth, capital investment, profits, and job satisfaction. They advance our understanding of the current empirical findings and credibility of this research by using meta-statistical analysis to evaluate research quality, publication selection bias, statistical power, and heterogeneity. The authors conclude that compared to other areas of economics, research on union effects has lower bias but larger problems of statistical power. They argue that Freeman and Medoff’s monopoly–collective voice model helped produce more credible results, and they suggest ways to reduce the power and heterogeneity problems in existing research.

Suggested Citation

  • Hristos Doucouliagos & Richard B. Freeman & Patrice Laroche & T. D. Stanley, 2018. "How Credible Is Trade Union Research? Forty Years of Evidence on the Monopoly–Voice Trade-Off," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 71(2), pages 287-305, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ilrrev:v:71:y:2018:i:2:p:287-305

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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea Garnero & François Rycx & Isabelle Terraz, 2020. "Productivity and Wage Effects of Firm‐Level Collective Agreements: Evidence from Belgian Linked Panel Data," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 58(4), pages 936-972, December.
    2. Furukawa, Chishio, 2019. "Publication Bias under Aggregation Frictions: Theory, Evidence, and a New Correction Method," EconStor Preprints 194798, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    3. Héctor Gutiérrez Rufrancos, 2019. "Are There Gains to Joining a Union? Evidence from Mexico," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 57(3), pages 676-712, September.
    4. Cardullo, Gabriele & Conti, Maurizio & Sulis, Giovanni, 2020. "A model of unions, two-tier bargaining and capital investment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(C).


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