Institutional change in the German wage bargaining system: The role of big companies
Despite the emergence of new production systems, Europeanization and economic internationalization, the national arrangements of wage bargaining systems have not been eroded. The paper highlights the factors that counteract the pressures for a straightforward decentralization with reference to Germany. Firstly, the maintenance of peaceful labour relations is a major advantage for big companies in centralized wage bargaining systems. Secondly, big companies have been able to achieve labour cost control and the differentiation of working conditions by drawing up pacts for employment and competitiveness at the company level. Thirdly, they have succeeded in introducing a higher degree of flexibility into the collective agreement framework. The main argument will be that institutional change has taken other forms than expected. Whereas the formal institutional setting has remained relatively stable, the functioning of the German wage bargaining system has changed.
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