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Unions and Workplace Performance in Britain and France


  • Alex Bryson
  • John Forth
  • Patrice Laroche


Using nationally representative workplace surveys we examine the relationship between unionization and workplace financial performance in Britain and France. We find that union bargaining is detrimental to workplace performance in Britain and that this effect is larger when unionization is endogenized. In France, union bargaining is associated with poorer workplace performance but the effect disappears once unionization is treated as endogenous. However, high levels of union density do have a negative impact on workplace performance in France. In Britain the union effect does not rise with union density.

Suggested Citation

  • Alex Bryson & John Forth & Patrice Laroche, 2009. "Unions and Workplace Performance in Britain and France," CEP Discussion Papers dp0920, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0920

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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. Edward J. Schumacher, 1999. "What Explains Wage Differences Between Union Members and Covered Nonmembers?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 493-512, January.
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    4. Bryson, Alex & Dale-Olsen, Harald, 2008. "A tale of two countries: unions, closures and growth in Britain and Norway," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19589, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Stewart, Mark B, 1987. "Collective Bargaining Arrangements, Closed Shops and Relative Pay," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(385), pages 140-156, March.
    6. Machin, Stephen J & Stewart, Mark B, 1990. "Unions and the Financial Performance of British Private Sector Establishments," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 5(4), pages 327-350, Oct.-Dec..
    7. Forth, John & Millward, Neil, 2002. "Union effects on pay levels in Britain," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 547-561, September.
    8. Anne Hawke & Mark Wooden, 1997. "The 1995 Australian Workplace Industrial Relations Survey," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 30(3), pages 323-328.
    9. Stephen Machin, 2000. "Union Decline in Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 38(4), pages 631-645, December.
    10. 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.
    11. Barry T. Hirsch, 2004. "What Do Unions Do for Economic Performance?," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 25(3), pages 415-456, July.
    12. Grout, Paul A, 1984. "Investment and Wages in the Absence of Binding Contracts: A Nash Bargining Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 449-460, March.
    13. Alex Bryson, 2007. "The Effect of Trade Unions on Wages," Reflets et perspectives de la vie économique, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(2), pages 33-45.
    14. David Blanchflower & Alex Bryson, 2002. "Changes over time in union relative wage effects in the UK and the US revisited," NBER Working Papers 9395, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. William N. Cooke, 1992. "Product Quality Improvement through Employee Participation: The Effects of Unionization and Joint Union-Management Administration," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(1), pages 119-134, October.
    16. Addison, John T & Hirsch, Barry T, 1989. "Union Effects on Productivity, Profits, and Growth: Has the Long Run Arrived?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(1), pages 72-105, January.
    17. Patrice Laroche & Hristos Doucouliagos, 2009. "Unions and Profits: A meta-regression Analysis," Post-Print hal-00648569, HAL.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stijn Baert & Eddy Omey, 2015. "Hiring Discrimination Against Pro-union Applicants: The Role of Union Density and Firm Size," De Economist, Springer, vol. 163(3), pages 263-280, September.
    2. Addison, John T. & Teixeira, Paulino, 2017. "Workplace Employee Representation and Industrial Relations Performance: New Evidence from the 2013 European Company Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 10899, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Patrice Laroche & Heidi Wechtler, 2011. "The Effects of Labor Unions on Workplace Performance: New Evidence from France," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 157-180, June.
    4. John T. Addison, 2016. "Collective bargaining systems and macroeconomic and microeconomic flexibility: the quest for appropriate institutional forms in advanced economies," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-53, December.
    5. Thomas Breda, 2010. "Firms' rents, workers' bargaining power and the union wage premium in France," PSE Working Papers halshs-00564903, HAL.
    6. VAN DEN BERG, Annette & GRIFT, Yolanda & VAN WITTELOOSTUIJN, Arjen & BOONE, Christophe & VAN DER BREMPT, Olivier, 2013. "The effect of employee workplace representation on firm performance. A cross-country comparison within Europe," ACED Working Papers 2013016, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics.
    7. VAN DEN BERG, Annette & GRIFT, Yolanda & VAN WITTELOOSTUIJN, Arjen & BOONE, Christophe & VAN DER BREMPT, Olivier, 2013. "The effect of employee workplace representation on firm performance. A cross-country comparison within Europe," Working Papers 2013008, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics.
    8. A. van den Berg & Y.K. Grift & A. van Witteloostuijn & C. Boone & O. van der Brempt, 2013. "The effect of employee workplace representation on firm performance: A cross-country comparison within Europe," Working Papers 13-05, Utrecht School of Economics.

    More about this item


    Trade union; firm performance; France; Britain;

    JEL classification:

    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance

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