The Development of Trade Union theory and Mainstream Economic Methodology
The pre-war approaches to trade unions were mainly based on the theoretical and methodological viewpoints of early institutional economics. Trade unions were conceived of as politico-economic organizations whose members were motivated by relative comparisons and also were concerned with issues of equity and justice. In the post-war period, there was a major theoretical and methodological shift towards the idea of unions as optimizing economic units with well-defined objective functions which are optimized subject to purely economic constraints. This conceptual transformation took place mainly through the Dunlop-Ross debate, in which John Dunlop conceived unions as analogous to business firms, which was contrary to Arthur Ross’ institutional and political approach. The emerging post war mainstream methodological framework with its mathematical formalism and the exclusion of sociological, political and psychological elements from economic analysis was the main reason for the prevalence of Dunlop’s ideas. However, after decades of analytical developments, the current state of trade union theory has not produced very impressive theoretical results.The paper traces the historical development of the economic analysis of the trade unions from a methodological perspective. It examines the methodological reasons for the dominance of Dunlop’s approach and also the current state of, and the contemporary criticism towards, the established theory. Furthermore, it discusses the contemporary efforts to build a more comprehensive approach to trade union theory and to trade union objectives, also incorporating Ross’ institutional and political insights.
|Date of creation:||Jun 2012|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Ludwigstraße 33, D-80539 Munich, Germany|
Web page: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Skott, Peter, "undated".
"Fairness as a source of hysteresis in employment and relative wages,"
Economics Working Papers
2003-6, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
- Skott, Peter, 2005. "Fairness as a source of hysteresis in employment and relative wages," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 305-331, July.
- Peter Skott, 2004. "Fairness as a source of hysteresis in employment and relative wages," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2004-04, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
- Manzini, P., 1996.
"Game Theoretic Models of Wage Bargaining,"
9615, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
- repec:sae:ilrrev:v:7:y:1954:i:4:p:575-578 is not listed on IDEAS
- Denny, Kevin & Nickell, Stephen J, 1992.
"Unions and Investment in British Industry,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(413), pages 874-887, July.
- de la Croix, David, 1994. " Wage Interdependence through Decentralized Bargaining," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(4), pages 371-403, December.
- Hieser, R O, 1970. "Wage Determination with Bilateral Monopoly in the Labour Market: A Theoretical Treatment," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 46(113), pages 55-72, March.
- S. Rosen, 1969. "Trade Union Power, Threat Effects and the Extent of Organization," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(2), pages 185-196.
- Edgeworth, Francis Ysidro, 1881. "Mathematical Psychics," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number edgeworth1881.
- Johnston, J, 1972. "A Model of Wage Determination under Bilateral Monopoly," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 82(327), pages 837-852, September.
- Stavros Drakopoulos, 2011. "The neglect of comparison income: An historical perspective," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(3), pages 441-464.
- Booth, Alison L, 1984. "A Public Choice Model of Trade Union Behaviour and Membership," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376), pages 883-898, December.
- Oswald, Andrew J, 1985. " The Economic Theory of Trade Unions: An Introductory Survey," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 87(2), pages 160-193.
- Redman, Deborah A., 1993. "Economics and the Philosophy of Science," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195082746, December.
- Dow, Sheila, 2002. "Economic Methodology: An Inquiry," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198776123, December.
- Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1998. "Comparison-concave utility and following behaviour in social and economic settings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 133-155, October.
- Alison L. Booth, 1985. "The Free Rider Problem and a Social Custom Model of Trade Union Membership," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(1), pages 253-261.
- Luigino Bruni & Robert Sugden, 2007. "The road not taken: how psychology was removed from economics, and how it might be brought back," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(516), pages 146-173, 01.
- Oswald, Andrew J, 1982. "The Microeconomic Theory of the Trade Union," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(367), pages 576-595, September.
- Mark Perlman, 1960. "Labor Movement Theories: Past, Present, and Future," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 13(3), pages 338-348, April.
- repec:sae:ilrrev:v:52:y:1999:i:3:p:361-392 is not listed on IDEAS
- Bruce E. Kaufman, 2000. "The Early Institutionalists on Industrial Democracy and Union Democracy," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 21(2), pages 189-209, April.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:39239. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.