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. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjir.12575
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Article: https://doi.org/10.1111/bjir.12575
Non-paywall version: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3425452
9-minute animation (fewer details, more fun): https://youtu.be/K_mP-htYcok
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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