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The Influence of Product Markets on Industrial Relations

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Abstract

Product markets are the foundation on which industrial relations institutions are built. Trade union strength is partly dependent upon the state of the labour market, but it is imperfections in the product market that are the precondition of their winning benefits for their members. Sectoral agreements consequently formed the basis for collective bargaining in most industrialised countries. But international competition has destroyed this for much of the private sector. Quasi-markets have undermined it for much of the public sector. The paper assesses the empirical economic literature on the impact of product markets. It considers enthnographic insights into how competitive pressures feed through to managerial behaviour. It concludes with alternative strategies - co-operative bargaining, legislative intervention, and consumer campaigns - that seek to defend labour standards from competitive erosion.

Suggested Citation

  • Brown, W., 2006. "The Influence of Product Markets on Industrial Relations," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0652, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0652
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    File URL: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/research-files/repec/cam/pdf/cwpe0652.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Machin, Stephen & Stewart, Mark, 1996. "Trade Unions and Financial Performance," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(2), pages 213-241, April.
    2. Acocella,Nicola, 2005. "Economic Policy in the Age of Globalisation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521540384, Fall.
    3. Ajit Singh, 2004. "Labour Standards and the 'Race to the Bottom': Rethinking Globalization and Workers' Rights from Developmental and Solidaristic Perspectives," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 85-104, Spring.
    4. Ulman, Lloyd, 1974. "Connective Bargaining and Competitive Bargaining," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 21(2), pages 97-109, June.
    5. Nolan, Peter & Brown, William, 1983. "Competition and Workplace Wage Determination," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 45(3), pages 269-287, August.
    6. Brown, William & Terry, Michael, 1978. "The Changing Nature of National Wage Agreements," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 25(2), pages 119-133, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Forth & Alex Bryson & Anitha George, 2016. "Explaining Cross-National Variation in Workplace Employee Representation," DoQSS Working Papers 16-10, Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
    2. Brown , W. & Bryson , A. & Forth , J., 2008. "Competition and the Retreat from Collective Bargaining," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0831, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    3. Crafts, Nicholas, 2011. "British Relative Economic Decline Revisited," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 42, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    product markets; John Commons; trade union power; collective bargaining; labour; wages; bargaining structure;

    JEL classification:

    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-

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