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An Economic Analysis of Works Councils

In: Works Councils: Consultation, Representation, and Cooperation in Industrial Relations

  • Richard B. Freeman
  • Edward P. Lazear

Works councils, found in most Western European economies, are elected bodies of employees with rights to information, consultation, and in some cases co-determination of employment conditions at local workplaces, mandated by law. Many European employers and unions believe that councils improve communication between workers and management, raising social output, while reducing the speed with which decisions are made. This paper analyzes the operation of councils as a means of improving social output by creating more cooperative labor relations. It argues that councils are mandated because the incentive for companies to institute them and delegate them power falls short of the social incentive; that workers provide more accurate information to employers about preferences when councils have some say over how that information is used; and that the communication from employers to workers produces socially desirable worker concessions in bad times that would not occur absent this institution. It compares a jury style random selection of works councilors with selection via elections.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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This chapter was published in:
  • Joel Rogers & Wolfgang Streeck, 1995. "Works Councils: Consultation, Representation, and Cooperation in Industrial Relations," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number roge95-1, December.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11555.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11555
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