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Why Are There Strikes?

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  • Kyung nok Chun
  • Zachary Schaller
  • Stergios Skaperdas

Abstract

Strikes, just as other types of conflict, used to be difficult to explain from an economic perspective. Initially, it was thought that they were a result of mistakes or irrationality. Then, during the 1980s an explosion of research brought asymmetric information to prominence as a significant cause of strikes. After reviewing such long-standing potential explanations, we go over some more recent ones. When a strike changes the future strategic positions of unions relative to firms compared to a bargain, then a strike can ensue; significantly, the more important the future is considered to be (i.e., the higher is the discount factor), the more likely a strike is. In a new model we show how solidarity based on identification with the union can lead to strikes. Additionally, power asymmetries, reputation-building, and internal union politics can account for strikes within a rational-choice, economic perspective.

Suggested Citation

  • Kyung nok Chun & Zachary Schaller & Stergios Skaperdas, 2020. "Why Are There Strikes?," CESifo Working Paper Series 8620, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_8620
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    unions; strikes; dispute resolution; bargaining;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J52 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Dispute Resolution: Strikes, Arbitration, and Mediation
    • J53 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Labor-Management Relations; Industrial Jurisprudence
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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