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The Twin Track Model of Employee Voice: An Anglo-American Perspective on Union Decline and the Rise of Alternative Forms of Voice

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Listed:
  • Bryson, Alex

    () (University College London)

  • Freeman, Richard B.

    () (Harvard University)

  • Gomez, Rafael

    () (University of Toronto)

  • Willman, Paul

    () (London School of Economics)

Abstract

We present a simple framework for analyzing decline in union voice in the Anglo-American world and its replacement by non-union, often direct, forms of worker voice. We argue that it is a decline in the in-flow to unionisation among employers and workers, rather than an increase in the outflow rate, that accounts for this decline. We show how union decline is predicted by experience good and cost-disease models of trade unionism and is linked to specific institutional and policy constraints on union organizing in the Anglo-American world. We show how the coexistence of union and non-union forms of worker voice is predicted by transaction cost economics, while the growth in non-union forms of worker voice is aided by declining costs of employers "making" voice mechanisms. We draw on "spurt" theories of unionisation to help understand factors underpinning union decline, including falling costs of employer opposition to unionisation as density falls, as discuss possibilities for "bottom-up" growth in union-like forms of worker voice implied by "spurt" theories.

Suggested Citation

  • Bryson, Alex & Freeman, Richard B. & Gomez, Rafael & Willman, Paul, 2017. "The Twin Track Model of Employee Voice: An Anglo-American Perspective on Union Decline and the Rise of Alternative Forms of Voice," IZA Discussion Papers 11223, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11223
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Brown, Charles & Medoff, James, 1978. "Trade Unions in the Production Process," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(3), pages 355-378, June.
    2. Richard B. Freeman & Morris M. Kleiner, 1990. "Employer Behavior in the Face of Union Organizing Drives," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(4), pages 351-365, July.
    3. Stephen Machin & Stephen Wood, 2005. "Human Resource Management as a Substitute for Trade Unions in British Workplaces," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 58(2), pages 201-218, January.
    4. David Metcalf & Kirstine Hansen & Andy Charlwood, 2001. "Unions and the Sword of Justice: Unions and Pay Systems, Pay Inequality, Pay Discrimination and Low Pay," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 176(1), pages 61-75, April.
    5. Bryson, Alex & Gomez, Rafael, 2005. "Why have workers stopped joining unions? Accounting for the rise in never-membership in Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 360, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Morris M. Kleiner & Alan B. Krueger, 2013. "Analyzing the Extent and Influence of Occupational Licensing on the Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(S1), pages 173-202.
    7. John-Paul Ferguson, 2008. "The Eyes of the Needles: A Sequential Model of Union Organizing Drives, 1999–2004," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 62(1), pages 3-21, October.
    8. Paul Willman, 2001. "The Viability of Trade Union Organization: A Bargaining Unit Analysis," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 39(1), pages 97-117, March.
    9. Rae Cooper & Bradon Ellem, 2008. "The Neoliberal State, Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining in Australia," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 46(3), pages 532-554, September.
    10. Alex Bryson & Rafael Gomez, 2005. "Why Have Workers Stopped Joining Unions? The Rise in Never-Membership in Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 43(1), pages 67-92, March.
    11. Jonathan E. Booth & John W. Budd & Kristen M. Munday, 2010. "Never Say Never? Uncovering the Never-Unionized in the United States," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(1), pages 26-52, March.
    12. Bruce E. Kaufman, 2010. "The Theoretical Foundation of Industrial Relations and its Implications for Labor Economics and Human Resource Management," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 64(1), pages 74-108, October.
    13. Chris Riddell, 2001. "Union suppression and certification success," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(2), pages 396-410, May.
    14. Richard B. Freeman & Casey Ichniowski, 1988. "When Public Sector Workers Unionize," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number free88-1.
    15. Rafael Gomez & Morley Gunderson & Noah Meltz, 2002. "Comparing Youth and Adult Desire for Unionization in Canada," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 40(3), pages 542-519, September.
    16. Freeman, Richard B. & Ichniowski, Casey (ed.), 1988. "When Public Sector Workers Unionize," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226261669, July.
    17. Stephen Machin, 2000. "Union Decline in Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 38(4), pages 631-645, December.
    18. Susan Johnson, 2002. "Card Check or Mandatory Representation Vote? How the Type of Union Recognition Procedure Affects Union Certification Success," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 344-361, April.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    worker voice; unionisation; collective bargaining; experience good; cost-disease; transaction costs;

    JEL classification:

    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects
    • 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
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management

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