Monday, September 20, 2021

The Importance of Political Systems for Trade Union Membership, Coverage, and Influence

Here's the Twitter thread version of my new article:

Excited that “The Importance of Political Systems for Trade Union Membership, Coverage, and Influence: Theory and Comparative Evidence” with @jryanlamare is in the current BJIR issue.

Ideological links between the state & industrial relations have-of course-been recognized as important for a long time. We build on this to consider the influence of the structural nature of a country’s political system, irrespective of the ideological leaning of the state.

By political system, we mean 1) the extent to which a national electoral system yields a legislative body that is (dis)proportional to the fraction of votes each party received, 2) effective number of parties, 3) multiparty ruling coalitions.

We theorize that these can influence workplace-level unionism, holding state ideology constant, via incentives for inclusionary governance & legislative body diversity. In short, a pol. system that rewards compromise rather than competition may create similar workplace norms.

Eg, in more representative & coalitional systems, unions have more opportunities to use their extra-parliamentary status to act as consensus-builders, increasing their legitimacy. Also, employers have incentives to influence as a social partner, so can't bust unions.

Using @eurofound establishment data & @ESS_Survey individual data for 25+ European countries, increased political representativeness (lower disproportionality,  coalitions) is a statistically significant predictor of a greater likelihood of individual trade union membership.

And competitive fragmentation, measured by greater numbers of political parties, is associated with weakened collective voice. Causal ambiguity is likely the strongest for the multiparty coalition outcomes.

The importance of cross-national institutional differences in the nature of trade unions & workplace voice, supportive legislative policies, and varieties of capitalism needs to be complemented by a deeper understanding of the role of varieties of political systems.

Non-paywall version:
9-minute animation (fewer details, more fun):
And we are deeply touched by the care shown to us & our work by the late David Marsden who was the editor.

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