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Strikes as the 'Tip of the Iceberg' in a Theory of Firm-Union Cooperation

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  • Gary-Bobo, Robert J.
  • Jaaidane, Touria

Abstract

We model cooperation between an employer and a workers' union as an equilibrium in an infinitely repeated game with discounting and imperfect monitoring. The employer has private information about firm profitability. The model explains the incidence and duration of strikes, as well as the employer's outsourcing (or partial lock-out) decisions. By means of an effort variable, it also extends the theory to account for worker resistance phenomena, taking the form of low effort on the part of employees. Strikes appear as random equilibrium phenomena, during finite-duration, but recurrent phases of play, triggered by the occurrence of a low-profitability state. We show that high-effort and high-pay cooperative agreements between the union and the employer can be supported as perfect public equilibria of the repeated game, if players are patient enough, but only at the cost of random reversions to noncooperative equilibrium in which strikes, low effort, low pay, and outsourcing take place.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary-Bobo, Robert J. & Jaaidane, Touria, 2008. "Strikes as the 'Tip of the Iceberg' in a Theory of Firm-Union Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 6644, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6644
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. James M. Malcomson & Frans Spinnewyn, 1988. "The Multiperiod Principal-Agent Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(3), pages 391-407.
    2. Green, Edward J & Porter, Robert H, 1984. "Noncooperative Collusion under Imperfect Price Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 87-100, January.
    3. Card, David, 1990. "Strikes and Bargaining: A Survey of the Recent Empirical Literature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 410-415, May.
    4. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1989. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 447-480, March.
    5. Ausubel, Lawrence M. & Cramton, Peter & Deneckere, Raymond J., 2002. "Bargaining with incomplete information," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications,in: R.J. Aumann & S. Hart (ed.), Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 50, pages 1897-1945 Elsevier.
    6. Athey, Susan & Bagwell, Kyle, 2001. "Optimal Collusion with Private Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, pages 428-465.
    7. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1998. "Motivation and Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 388-411, June.
    8. Cramton, Peter C & Tracy, Joseph S, 1992. "Strikes and Holdouts in Wage Bargaining: Theory and Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 100-121, March.
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    10. Kennan, John & Wilson, Robert, 1993. "Bargaining with Private Information," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 45-104, March.
    11. Kennan, John & Wilson, Robert, 1989. "Strategic Bargaining Models and Interpretation of Strike Data," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 4(S), pages 87-130, Supplemen.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gary-Bobo, Robert J. & Jaaidane, Touria, 2014. "Strikes and slowdown in a theory of relational contracts," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 89-116.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Imperfect Monitoring; Industrial Relations; Mechanism Design; Public Employment; Repeated Games; Theory of Strikes;

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets
    • J5 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining

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