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Technology resistance and globalisation with trade unions: the choice between employment protection and flexicurity

We analyse how different labour market institutions — employment protection versus ‘flexicurity’ — affect technology adoption in unionised firms. The analysis is cast in a setting of corporate globalisation, where domestic unionised labour face the double threat of labour-saving technological innovations and international outsourcing of domestic production. In the main part of the analysis, we analyse trade unions’ incentives to oppose or endorse the adoption of new technology. Our main result is that both weaker employment protection and a higher reservation wage for unionsed workers (interpreted as increased ‘flexicurity’) contribute to making trade unions more willing to accept labour-saving technological change. Furthermore, these effects are reinforced by globalisation. In an extension to the main analysis, we endogenise the technological progress by studying firms’ incentives to invest in new technology and find that these incentives are also generally strengthened in a labour market with more ‘flexicurity’.

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Paper provided by University of Bergen, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 13/07.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: 30 Oct 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:bergec:2007_013
Contact details of provider: Postal: Institutt for økonomi, Universitetet i Bergen, Postboks 7802, 5020 Bergen, Norway
Phone: (+47)55589200
Fax: (+47)55589210
Web page: http://www.uib.no/econ/en
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  1. Ichino, Andrea & Riphahn, Regina T., 2001. "The Effect of Employment Protection on Worker Effort: A Comparison of Absenteeism During and After Probation," IZA Discussion Papers 385, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Staiger, Robert W, 1988. "Organized Labor and the Scope of International Specialization," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 1022-47, October.
  3. Gerda Dewit & Dermot Leahy & Catia Montagna, 2003. "Employment protection and globalisation in dynamic oligopoly," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n1200103, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  4. Lazear, Edward P, 1990. "Job Security Provisions and Employment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 699-726, August.
  5. Tito Boeri & J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Vincenzo Galasso, 2012. "The Political Economy Of Flexicurity," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 684-715, 08.
  6. Sebastian G. Kessing, 2006. "Employment Protection and Product Market Competition," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(2), pages 339-352, 07.
  7. Hassler, John & Rodríguez Mora, José Vicente, 2007. "Unemployment Insurance Design: Inducing Moving and Retraining," CEPR Discussion Papers 6364, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Haucap, Justus & Wey, Christian, 2003. "Unionization Structures and Innovation Incentives," CEPR Discussion Papers 4079, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Calabuig, Vicente & Gonzalez-Maestre, Miguel, 2002. "Union structure and incentives for innovation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 177-192, March.
  10. Kjell Lommerud & Frode Meland & Odd Rune Straume, 2004. "Globalisation And Union Opposition To Technological Change," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2004 49, Royal Economic Society.
  11. Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 1999. "Productivity Gains from Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 7352, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Dowrick, Steve & Spencer, Barbara J, 1994. "Union Attitudes to Labor-Saving Innovation: When Are Unions Luddites?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 316-44, April.
  13. Moene, Karl Ove & Wallerstein, Michael, 1997. "Pay Inequality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 403-30, July.
  14. Jo Blanden & Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 2006. "Have Unions Turned the Corner? New Evidence on Recent Trends in Union Recognition in UK Firms," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 44(2), pages 169-190, 06.
  15. Oswald, Andrew J, 1985. " The Economic Theory of Trade Unions: An Introductory Survey," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 87(2), pages 160-93.
  16. Manning, Alan, 1987. "An Integration of Trade Union Models in a Sequential Bargaining Framework," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(385), pages 121-39, March.
  17. Bentolila, Samuel & Bertola, Giuseppe, 1990. "Firing Costs and Labour Demand: How Bad Is Eurosclerosis?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 381-402, July.
  18. Agell, Jonas & Lommerud, Kjell Erik, 1993. " Egalitarianism and Growth," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 95(4), pages 559-79, December.
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