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Strikes, Free Riders and Social Customs


  • Naylor, Robin


In recent years there has been a growing literature on the role of social customs in the labour market. Marsden (1986), for example, has emphasised the importance of group norms and social custom in various labour market contexts. Jones (1984) develops an economic model of conformist behaviour in which an individual's work effort is determined partly by tradition and by the behaviour of other workers. A central theme of the literature is that a rational economic agent does not inhabit a social vacuum and hence that individual behaviour is influenced, to some extent, by the actions of others. The approach promises the possibility of an escape from the free-riders problem, which, as we shall investigate, might have a number of labour market applications. Such a potential has been suggested by a number of writers in different fields. Eiser (1978), writing from a socio-psychological perspective, has stressed the role of social norms in producing cooperative outcomes in the theoretical context of the prisoner’s dilemma. Such an emphasis is consistent with Sen's (1977) argument that the concept of commitment might offer a solution to the free rider problems.

Suggested Citation

  • Naylor, Robin, 1987. "Strikes, Free Riders and Social Customs," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 275, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:275

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Svejnar, Jan, 1986. "Bargaining Power, Fear of Disagreement, and Wage Settlements: Theory and Evidence from U.S. Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(5), pages 1055-1078, September.
    2. Oswald, A. J., 1995. "Efficient contracts are on the labour demand curve: Theory and facts," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 102-102, March.
    3. Sampson, Anthony A, 1983. "Employment Policy in a Model with a Rational Trade Union," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 93(37), pages 297-311, June.
    4. Gylfason, Thorvaldur & Lindbeck, Assar, 1984. "Union Rivalry and Wages: An Oligopolistic Approach," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 51(202), pages 129-139, May.
    5. McDonald, Ian M & Solow, Robert M, 1981. "Wage Bargaining and Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 896-908, December.
    6. repec:fth:prinin:175 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Oswald, Andrew J, 1982. "The Microeconomic Theory of the Trade Union," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(367), pages 576-595, September.
    8. Martin J. Osborne, 1984. "Capitalist-Worker Conflict and Involuntary Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(1), pages 111-127.
    9. Andrew Oswald, 1984. "Efficient Contracts are on the Labour Demand Curve: Theory and Facts," Working Papers 555, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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