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Labour market regulation, industrial relations, and technological regimes: a tale of comparative advantage


  • Bassanini, Andrea
  • Ernst, Ekkehard


In this paper we present comparative evidence from OECD countries concerning the impact of labour market institutions and regulations on technological specialisation. The interplay between the degree of labour market flexibility, the systems of industrial relations and the knowledge base of different industries determines the viability of different human resource strategies thereby shaping the patterns of comparative advantage. Our empirical results show that countries with coordinated industrial-relations systems and strict employment protection tend to specialise in industries with a cumulative knowledge base. We argue that two mechanisms explain these patterns. The larger the scope for resorting to internal labour markets, the lower the adjustment costs imposed by labour market regulation. Furthermore, employment protection and coordinated industrial-relations regimes, by aligning workers' and firms' objectives, encourage firm-sponsored training as well as the accumulation of firm-specific competencies, allowing firms to fully exploit the potential of the international labour marke.

Suggested Citation

  • Bassanini, Andrea & Ernst, Ekkehard, 2001. "Labour market regulation, industrial relations, and technological regimes: a tale of comparative advantage," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 0117, CEPREMAP.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpm:cepmap:0117

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Vergeer & Steven Dhondt & Alfred Kleinknecht & Karolus Kraan, 2015. "Will ‘structural reforms’ of labour markets reduce productivity growth? A firm-level investigation," European Journal of Economics and Economic Policies: Intervention, Edward Elgar Publishing, vol. 12(3), pages 300—317-3, December.
    2. Tim Buyse & Freddy Heylen & Ruben Schoonackers, 2015. "On The Role Of Public Policies And Wage Formation For Private Investment In R&D: A Long-Run Panel Analysis," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 15/911, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    3. Simon STURN, 2013. "Are corporatist labour markets different? Labour market regimes and unemployment in OECD countries," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 152(2), pages 237-254, June.
    4. Larisa Smirnykh, 2016. "Is Flexible Labor Good for Innovation? Evidence from Russian Firm-level Data," Foresight and STI Governance (Foresight-Russia till No. 3/2015), National Research University Higher School of Economics, vol. 10(4), pages 60-70.
    5. Bassanini, Andrea & Marianna, Pascal, 2009. "Looking Inside the Perpetual-Motion Machine: Job and Worker Flows in OECD Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 4452, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Michael A. Witt & Gregory Jackson, 2016. "Varieties of Capitalism and institutional comparative advantage: A test and reinterpretation," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 47(7), pages 778-806, September.
    7. Erol Taymaz & Sule Ozler, 2004. "Labor Market Policies and EU Accession: Problems and Prospects for Turkey," ERC Working Papers 0405, ERC - Economic Research Center, Middle East Technical University, revised Mar 2004.
    8. DiVito, Lori, 2012. "Institutional entrepreneurship in constructing alternative paths: A comparison of biotech hybrids," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 884-896.
    9. International Labour Office., 2012. "Global employment trends for youth : 2012," Global Employment Trends Reports 994802013402676, International Labour Office, Economic and Labour Market Analysis Department.
    10. Barbosa, Natália & Faria, Ana Paula, 2011. "Innovation across Europe: How important are institutional differences?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(9), pages 1157-1169.
    11. Murphy, Gavin & Siedschlag, Iulia & McQuinn, John, 2012. "Employment Protection and Innovation Intensity," Papers WP445, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    12. Meelen, Toon & Herrmann, Andrea M. & Faber, Jan, 2017. "Disentangling patterns of economic, technological and innovative specialization of Western economies: An assessment of the Varieties-of-Capitalism theory on comparative institutional advantages," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 667-677.
    13. Alfred Kleinknecht, 2017. "Supply-side labour market reforms: a neglected cause of the productivity crisis," Working Papers 0027, ASTRIL - Associazione Studi e Ricerche Interdisciplinari sul Lavoro.
    14. Krammer, Sorin M.S., 2009. "Drivers of national innovation in transition: Evidence from a panel of Eastern European countries," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 845-860, June.
    15. Kalyvas, Antonios Nikolaos & Mamatzakis, Emmanuel, 2014. "Does business regulation matter for banks in the European Union?," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 278-324.
    16. Tylecote, Andrew & Ramirez, Paulina, 2006. "Corporate governance and innovation: The UK compared with the US and 'insider' economies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 160-180, February.
    17. Koeniger, Winfried, 2003. "Collective Dismissal Cost, Product Market Competition and Innovation," IZA Discussion Papers 888, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    18. Uschi Backes-Gellner & Marlies Kluike & Kerstin Pull & Martin R. Schneider & Silvia Teuber, 2016. "Human resource management and radical innovation: a fuzzy-set QCA of US multinationals in Germany, Switzerland, and the UK," Journal of Business Economics, Springer, vol. 86(7), pages 751-772, October.
    19. Muscio, Alessandro & Nardone, Gianluca & Stasi, Antonio, 2012. "Perceived Technological Regimes: An Empirical Analysis of the Apulian Wine Industry," 2012 International European Forum, February 13-17, 2012, Innsbruck-Igls, Austria 144969, International European Forum on Innovation and System Dynamics in Food Networks.
    20. Alfred Kleinknecht, 2014. "Schaden Strukturreformen des Arbeitsmarkts der Innovation?," Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft - WuG, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik, vol. 40(3), pages 417-428.
    21. Herstad, Sverre J. & Aslesen, Heidi Wiig & Ebersberger, Bernd, 2014. "On industrial knowledge bases, commercial opportunities and global innovation network linkages," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 495-504.
    22. van Treeck, Till. & Sturn, Simon., 2012. "Income inequality as a cause of the Great Recession? : A survey of current debates," ILO Working Papers 994709343402676, International Labour Organization.
    23. Storz, Cornelia & Riboldazzi, Federico & John, Moritz, 2015. "Mobility and innovation: A cross-country comparison in the video games industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 121-137.
    24. Dario Guarascio & Annamaria Simonazzi, 2016. "A polarized country in a polarized Europe: an industrial policy for Italy’s renaissance," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 43(3), pages 315-322, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • J50 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - General

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