A paper in Industrial Relations A Journal of Economy and Society performs a meta-analysis of a wide range of studies the impact of trade unions on productivity and finds a complex puzzle.
Studies of countries with strong unions show a solid correlation between unions and high productivity. But studies of workplaces with unions show almost no impact on productivity (either no impact or a slightly negative or positive impact, depending on the country). But an excellent analysis from Stumbling and Mumbling unravels the paradox:
You might wonder how the cross-country evidence shows a positive correlation whereas the cross-workplace evidence generally doesn't. Here's a theory. People will always want better pay and conditions. This is simply because they are human. If they can't achieve these through unions they will try to get them through the ballot box, in the form of legislation.
In this sense, as Philippe Aghion and colleagues show, there can be good and bad equilibria; a good equilibrium in which there are strong unions and little legislation, and a bad one in which there are weak unions and much regulation.
The UK fits their story. Whereas in the 70s businessmen complained about unions, they now whine about minimum wage laws and red tape.
But here's the thing. Regulation is a bad substitute for unions. Regulation is inflexible. Whereas collective bargaining - when done intelligently - can respond to different local conditions.
Unions & productivity [Stumbling and Mumbling]
(via Tim Harford)
(Image: WinnipegGeneralStrike, Wikimedia/Public Domain)
In a new working paper from the Center for Economic Policy Research, scholars look at the trading records of shareholders, directors and top executives of major financial institutions in the runup to the crash of 2007, and find that the sell-offs by the top five executives at a bank strongly correlated with that bank’s losses […]
Researchers at UC Riverside and Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada have published a paper describing their ongoing success in setting a “transparent nanocrystalline yttria-stabilized-zirconia” into patients’ skulls, which reveal the patients’ brains so that the patients’ brains can be zapped with therapeutic lasers.
Exiled NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and legendary hardware hacker Andrew bunnie” Huang have published a paper detailing their new “introspection engine” for the Iphone, an external hardware case that clips over the phone and probes its internal components with a miniature oscilloscope that reads all the radio traffic in and out of the device to […]
Much of what goes into creating an amazing photo happens in the digital darkroom. Here’s your chance to master all things photo editing: the Ultimate Adobe Photo Editing Bundle, now available in the Boing Boing Store for just $29.99.Across 8 courses and over 41 hours of intensive instruction, you’ll learn the fundamentals of Adobe’s suite of photo […]
3D printers are hot, but they’re also pricey. While the prospect of cranking out everything we can dream up is enticing, cost is often one factor that keeps us from jumping onto the 3D printing train.Now, thanks to M3D, that doesn’t have to be the case. You can now get its flagship 3D printer–plus four reels of filaments–for just […]
It’s no secret that technology is changing the way we all work—but it’s also transforming the way we play. The games of today look nothing like those of 10 or even 20 years ago: these days it’s all about mobile and 3D. And now you can learn to design 3D mobile games with the Intro to Unity 3D Game […]