Works Councils, Training Activities and Innovation: A Study of German Firms
Building on the notion of general and specific human capital proposed by Becker (1962), the paper highlights the importance of employee training practices undertaken in firms as an important tool for human resource and knowledge management and focuses on the role of works councils as a specific form of employee representation system therein. Using establishment data on various aspects of training practices and innovation activities in Germany, the paper examines the degree, type and extent to which establishments invest in employee training and finds significant differences for firms with and without works councils. Specifically, findings suggest that works councils are related more with the provision of generalized training rather than in firm-specific technical training of employees. In addition, the paper finds strong support for using works councils as an instrument for a firm's total training activities that correlate with innovation, and weak support when we consider only generalized training and innovation. Finally, no significant relation is found between training practices and radical innovativeness of firms after accounting for reverse causality.
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