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Unionization, Incomplete Contracting, and Capital Investment


  • Bronars, Stephen G
  • Deere, Donald R


This article examines empirically the hypothesis that incomplete contracts and resulting opportunistic behavior over the return to sunk assets reduces investment. Union-firm contracts are incomplete because they (1) do not prevent all actions aimed at changing the existing contract; (2) cover a relatively short time period; and (3) do not extend to union members yet to be hired. The primary response of firms is to reduce investment in specific durable assets and also to reduce employment growth and increase debt. The authors find fairly strong evidence of these effects in a sample of large publicly traded firms using firm-specific measures of unionization. Copyright 1993 by University of Chicago Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Bronars, Stephen G & Deere, Donald R, 1993. "Unionization, Incomplete Contracting, and Capital Investment," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66(1), pages 117-132, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jnlbus:v:66:y:1993:i:1:p:117-32

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Douglas W. Diamond & Philip H. Dybvig, 2000. "Bank runs, deposit insurance, and liquidity," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 14-23.
    2. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicolás S., 1945-, 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Working papers 1523-84., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    3. Kyle, Albert S, 1985. "Continuous Auctions and Insider Trading," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1315-1335, November.
    4. Diamond, Douglas W. & Verrecchia, Robert E., 1981. "Information aggregation in a noisy rational expectations economy," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 221-235, September.
    5. Stewart C. Myers & Nicholas S. Majluf, 1984. "Corporate Financing and Investment Decisions When Firms Have InformationThat Investors Do Not Have," NBER Working Papers 1396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicholas S., 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 187-221, June.
    7. Mark Rubinstein., 1989. "Market Basket Alternatives," Research Program in Finance Working Papers RPF-187, University of California at Berkeley.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maria Bas & Juan Carluccio, 2009. "Wage Bargaining and the Boundaries of the Multinational Firm," CEP Discussion Papers dp0963, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    2. Bester, Helmut & Petrakis, Emmanuel, 2004. "Wages and productivity growth in a dynamic monopoly," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 83-100, January.
    3. Dongphil Chun & Yanghon Chung & Chungwon Woo & Hangyeol Seo & Hyesoo Ko, 2015. "Labor Union Effects on Innovation and Commercialization Productivity: An Integrated Propensity Score Matching and Two-Stage Data Envelopment Analysis," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(5), pages 1-19, April.
    4. Metcalf, David, 2002. "Unions and productivity, financial performance and investment: international evidence," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20072, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Rafael Gomez & Konstantinos Tzioumis, 2006. "What Do Unions Do to Executive Compensation?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0720, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. S. Dobbelaere, 2003. "Joint Estimation of Price-Cost Margins and Union Bargaining Power for Belgian Manufacturing," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 03/171, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    7. Justus Haucap & Christian Wey, 2004. "Unionisation structures and innovation incentives," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(494), pages 149-165, March.
    8. John T. Addison & Thorsten Schank & Claus Schnabel & Joachim Wagner, 2007. "Do Works Councils Inhibit Investment?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(2), pages 187-203, January.
    9. Menezes-Filho, Naercio & Ulph, David & Van Reenen, John, 1998. "The determination of R&D: Empirical evidence on the role of unions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 919-930, May.
    10. David Card & Francesco Devicienti & Agata Maida, 2014. "Rent-sharing, Holdup, and Wages: Evidence from Matched Panel Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 84-111.
    11. Alberto Fernández & Benito Arruñada & Manuel González, 1998. "Quasi-integration in less-than-truckload trucking," Economics Working Papers 292, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jul 2002.
    12. John T. Addison & Clive R. Belfield, 2004. "Union Voice," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 25(4), pages 563-596, October.
    13. Benito Arruñada & Manuel González-Díaz & Alberto Fernández, 2004. "Determinants of organizational form: transaction costs and institutions in the European trucking industry," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(6), pages 867-882, December.
    14. repec:eee:jeborg:v:137:y:2017:i:c:p:90-104 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Debasmita Basak & Andreas Hoefele & Arijit Mukherjee, 2014. "Union Bargaining Power and Product Innovation: Relevance of the Preference Function," CESifo Working Paper Series 5007, CESifo Group Munich.
    16. Fang, Tony & Ge, Ying, 2012. "Unions and firm innovation in China: Synergy or strife?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 170-180.
    17. Chemla, Gilles, 2005. "Hold-up, stakeholders and takeover threats," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 376-397, July.
    18. Addison, John T. & Bellmann, Lutz & Kölling, Arnd, 2002. "Unions, Works Councils and Plant Closings in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 474, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    19. Mukherjee, Arijit & Pennings, Enrico, 2011. "Unionization structure, licensing and innovation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 232-241, March.
    20. Gonzalez, Manuel & Arrunada, Benito & Fernandez, Alberto, 1998. "Regulation as a cause of firm fragmentation:the case of the Spanish construction industry," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 433-450, December.
    21. repec:dau:papers:123456789/4134 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Bellmann, Lutz & Gerner, Hans-Dieter & Hübler, Olaf, 2013. "Investment under Company-Level Pacts," IZA Discussion Papers 7195, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    23. Balsmeier, Benjamin, 2017. "Unions, collective relations laws and R&D investment in emerging and developing countries," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 292-304.
    24. Chen, Yan-Shing & Chen, I-Ju, 2013. "The impact of labor unions on investment-cash flow sensitivity," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 2408-2418.

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