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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 NIPE - Universidade do Minho in its series NIPE Working Papers with number 25/2007.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:nip:nipewp:25/2007
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  1. 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.
  2. Agell, Jonas & Lommerud, Kjell Erik, 1993. " Egalitarianism and Growth," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 95(4), pages 559-79, December.
  3. Sebastian Kessing, 2004. "Employment Protection And Product Market Competition," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2004 50, Royal Economic Society.
  4. 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.
  5. Lommerud, Kjell Erik & Meland, Frode & Straume, Odd Rune, 2003. "Globalisation and union opposition to technological change
    [Globalisierung und gewerkschaftlicher Widerstand gegen technologischen Wandel]
    ," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2003-18, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  6. Dewit, Gerda & Leahy, Dermot & Montagna, Catia, 2003. "Employment Protection and Globalization in Dynamic Oligopoly," CEPR Discussion Papers 3871, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 1999. "Productivity Gains from Unemployment Insurance," Working papers 99-29, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  8. Haucap, Justus & Wey, Christian, 2003. "Unionization Structures and Innovation Incentives," CEPR Discussion Papers 4079, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Lazear, Edward P, 1990. "Job Security Provisions and Employment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 699-726, August.
  10. Andrea Ichino & Regina T. Riphahn, 2001. "The Effect of Employment Protection on Worker Effort. A Comparison of Absenteeism During and After Probation," CESifo Working Paper Series 596, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Hassler, John & Rodríguez Mora, José V., 2008. "Unemployment insurance design: Inducing moving and retraining," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(5), pages 757-791, July.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Tito Boeri & J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Vincenzo Galasso, 2006. "The Political Economy of Flexicurity," Working Papers 2006-15, FEDEA.
  18. Moene, Karl Ove & Wallerstein, Michael, 1997. "Pay Inequality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 403-30, July.
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