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Flexible Collective Bargaining Agreements: Still a Moderating Effect on Works Council Behaviour?

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Abstract

We analyse the interaction between different labour market institutions in Germany, a country with a long tradition of strong bargaining partners. A number of studies have established that industry-level bargaining exerts a moderating role on firm-level co-determination: works councils generate rather than redistribute rents in plants covered by collective bargaining agreements. This work analyses whether these findings still hold, given recent developments in the German system of industrial relations towards more bargaining decentralisation, such as opening clauses or company-level pacts for employment. In addition, we provide evidence pertaining to whether labour market reforms targeted at one institution (a push of collective bargaining agreements towards more flexibility) are counteracted by altering the effects of other, unaffected institutions (the rent-seeking behaviour of works councils). Analysing institutional changes and augmenting a theoretical model provides hypotheses, which are then tested using empirical analysis of representative German plant level data. We find that the existence of flexibility provisions in collective bargaining agreements do not drive works council behaviour towards rent-seeking. Regarding rent-generation, we find an amplifying effect: works council existence is associated with higher productivity in plants covered by industry-level contracts. These findings, however, depend on the level of collective bargaining: they do not hold in plants covered by firm-level contracts.

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  • Tobias Brändle, 2013. "Flexible Collective Bargaining Agreements: Still a Moderating Effect on Works Council Behaviour?," IAW Discussion Papers 96, Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung (IAW).
  • Handle: RePEc:iaw:iawdip:96
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    Cited by:

    1. John T. Addison & Arnd Kölling & Paulino Teixeira, 2014. "Changes in Bargaining Status and Intra-Plant Wage Dispersion in Germany. A Case of (Almost) Plus Ça Change?," GEMF Working Papers 2014-15, GEMF, Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra.
    2. 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).
    3. Brändle, Tobias & Goerke, Laszlo, 2018. "The One Constant: A Causal Effect of Collective Bargaining on Employment Growth?," IZA Discussion Papers 11518, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Uwe Jirjahn, 2014. "Works Councils and Collective Bargaining in Germany: A Simple but Crucial Theoretical Extension," Research Papers in Economics 2014-13, University of Trier, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    works councils; collective bargaining; employment pacts; opening clauses; wages; productivity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J53 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Labor-Management Relations; Industrial Jurisprudence
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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