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Arbitrator Behavior in Public Sector Wage Disputes

In: When Public Sector Workers Unionize

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  • David E. Bloom

Abstract

This study analyzes a new set of data on the decisions of conventional arbitrators. The main goal is to draw inferences about the extent to which conventional arbitration decisions are fashioned as mechanical compromises of the parties' final offers, without reference to the exogenous facts involved in different disputes. The results of the analysis are remarkably clear: conventional arbitrators tend to split-the-difference between the parties' final offers with virtually no evidence of additional systematic reference to the facts of the cases. However, since there is a substantial amount of unexplained variance in the arbitration decisions, this evidence of mechanical compromise behavior should be viewed as characterizing the overall operation of conventional arbitration mechanisms and not the behavior of individual arbitrators in any particular case. Indeed, the results are consistent with the view that individual arbitrators pay close attention to the facts of the cases, but that there is considerable variation in the structure of different arbitrators' preference functions.
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Suggested Citation

  • David E. Bloom, 1988. "Arbitrator Behavior in Public Sector Wage Disputes," NBER Chapters,in: When Public Sector Workers Unionize, pages 107-128 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:7905
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Farber, Henry S & Bazerman, Max H, 1986. "The General Basis of Arbitrator Behavior: An Empirical Analysis of Conventional and Final-Offer Arbitration," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(4), pages 819-844, July.
    2. Max H. Bazerman, 1985. "Norms of Distributive Justice in Interest Arbitration," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 38(4), pages 558-570, July.
    3. Max H. Bazerman & Henry S. Farber, 1985. "Arbitrator Decision Making: When are Final Offers Important?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 39(1), pages 76-89, October.
    4. Orley Ashenfelter, 1985. "Evidence on US Experiences with Dispute Resolution Systems," Working Papers 565, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    5. Farber, Henry S & Bazerman, Max H, 1986. "The General Basis of Arbitrator Behavior: An Empirical Analysis of Conventional and Final-Offer Arbitration," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(6), pages 1503-1528, November.
    6. Henry S. Farber, 1981. "Splitting-the-Difference in Interest Arbitration," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 35(1), pages 70-77, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Orley Ashenfelter & Janet Currie & Matthew Spiegel, 1989. "An Experimental Comparison of Alternative Arbitration Systems," UCLA Economics Working Papers 563, UCLA Department of Economics.

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