IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Dissonant Works Councils and Establishment Survivability


  • John T. Addison
  • Paulino Teixeira
  • Philipp Grunau
  • Lutz Bellmann


Using subjective information provided by manager respondents on the stance taken by the works council in company decision making, this paper investigates the association between a measure of works council dissonance or disaffection and plant closings in Germany, 2006-2015. The potential effects of worker representation on plant survivability have been little examined in the firm performance literature because of inadequate information on plant closings on the one hand and having to assume homogeneity of what are undoubtedly heterogeneous worker representation agencies on the other. Our use of two datasets serves to identify failed establishments, while the critical issue of heterogeneity is tackled via manager perceptions of works council disaffection or otherwise. The heterogeneity issue is also addressed by considering the wider collective bargaining framework within which works councils are embedded, and also by allowing for works council learning. It is reported that works council dissonance is positively associated with plant closings, although this association is not found for establishments that are covered by sectoral agreements. Taken in conjunction, both findings are consistent with the literature on the mitigation of rent seeking behavior. Less consistent with the recent empirical literature, however, is the association between plant closings and dissonance over time, that is, from the point at which works council dissonance is first observed. Although the coefficient estimate for dissonance is declining with the length of the observation window, it remains stubbornly positive and highly statistically significant. Finally, there is evidence that establishments with dissonant works councils are associated with a much higher probability of transitioning from no collective bargaining to sectoral bargaining coverage over the sample period than their counterparts with more consensual works councils.

Suggested Citation

  • John T. Addison & Paulino Teixeira & Philipp Grunau & Lutz Bellmann, 2019. "Dissonant Works Councils and Establishment Survivability," CESifo Working Paper Series 7722, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_7722

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Uwe JIRJAHN & Stephen C. SMITH, 2018. "Nonunion Employee Representation: Theory And The German Experience With Mandated Works Councils," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 89(1), pages 201-233, March.
    2. Brown, Sarah & Gray, Daniel & McHardy, Jolian & Taylor, Karl, 2015. "Employee trust and workplace performance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 361-378.
    3. German Rodriguez & Irma Elo, 2003. "Intra-class correlation in random-effects models for binary data," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 3(1), pages 32-46, March.
    4. Tobias Brändle & Laszlo Goerke, 2018. "The one constant: a causal effect of collective bargaining on employment growth? Evidence from German linked‐employer‐employee data," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 65(5), pages 445-478, November.
    5. Stephen Machin, 1995. "Plant Closures and Unionization in British Establishments," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 33(1), pages 55-68, March.
    6. Uwe Jirjahn & Jens Mohrenweiser, 2016. "Owner-Managers and the Failure of Newly Adopted Works Councils," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 54(4), pages 815-845, December.
    7. Uwe Jirjahn, 2010. "Works councils and employment growth in German establishments," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(3), pages 475-500.
    8. Uwe Jirjahn & Jens Mohrenweiser & Uschi Backes‐Gellner, 2011. "Works Councils and Learning: On the Dynamic Dimension of Codetermination," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 427-447, August.
    9. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
    10. Müller, Steffen & Stegmaier, Jens, 2017. "Why is there resistance to works councils in Germany? An economic perspective," IWH Discussion Papers 23/2017, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    11. Stewart, Mark B, 1995. "Union Wage Differentials in an Era of Declining Unionization," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(2), pages 143-166, May.
    12. Gabriele Fischer & Florian Janik & Dana Müller & Alexandra Schmucker, 2009. "European Data Watch: The IAB Establishment Panel - Things Users Should Know," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 129(1), pages 133-148.
    13. Alex Bryson, 2004. "Unions and Workplace Closure in Britain, 1990–1998," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 42(2), pages 282-302, June.
    14. John T. Addison & John S. Heywood & Xiangdong Wei, 2003. "New Evidence on Unions and Plant Closings: Britain in the 1990s," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(4), pages 822-841, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    dissonance; works councils; plant closings; collective bargaining regime; rent seeking; learning;

    JEL classification:

    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects
    • J53 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Labor-Management Relations; Industrial Jurisprudence
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_7722. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Klaus Wohlrabe). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.