Why Is there Resistance to Works Councils In Germany? An Economic Perspective
Economic and Industrial Democracy,
Recent empirical research generally finds evidence of positive economic effects for works councils, for example with regard to productivity and – with some limitations – to profits. This makes it necessary to explain why employers’ associations have reservations about works councils. On the basis of an in-depth literature analysis, this article shows that beyond the generally positive findings, there are important heterogeneities in the impact of works councils. The authors argue that those groups of employers that tend to benefit little from employee participation in terms of productivity and profits may well be important enough to shape the agenda of their employers’ organization and have even gained in importance within their organizations in recent years. The authors also discuss the role of deviations from profit-maximizing behavior like risk aversion, short-term profit-maximization and other non-pecuniary motives, as possible reasons for employer resistance.
25.05.2018 • 12/2018
The resistance of employers against works councils
Germany votes. However, this time it’s not about the politicians – instead it’s about the works councils. It’s certainly worthwhile: Many studies have shown that works councils all in all have a positive impact on productivity, wages and profits. Despite this, employers are sometimes very resistant to the idea of staff involvement in company decision-making. A common argument is that such participation limits managerial freedom and that employers are willing to sacrifice the benefits of staff participation in return for greater room for manoeuvre. Steffen Müller from the Halle Institute for Economic Research Halle (IWH) – Member of the Leibniz Association now provides an alternative economic justification for employer resistance: Employer associations are dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises, and in these works councils – in contrast to large firms – often produce no positive economic benefits.
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Warum gibt es Widerstand gegen Betriebsräte?
Wirtschaft im Wandel,
Die jüngere ökonomische Forschung stellt der betrieblichen Mitbestimmung z. B. im Hinblick auf ihre Effekte auf Produktivität, Löhne und Gewinne insgesamt ein positives Zeugnis aus. Dies macht den Widerstand von Arbeitgebern gegen Betriebsräte erklärungsbedürftig. Da Mitbestimmung die unternehmerische Freiheit einschränkt, wird vielfach vermutet, dass Arbeitgeber bereit sein könnten, positive Effekte der Mitbestimmung im Gegenzug für größere Handlungsspielräume zu opfern. Unser Beitrag zeigt auf Basis einer Literaturauswertung, dass, jenseits der durchschnittlich positiven Beurteilung durch die Forschung, Mitbestimmung in vielen Betrieben keine positiven ökonomischen Folgen hat. Da das Gewicht solcher Betriebe in den Arbeitgeberverbänden stark ist, kann die ablehnende Haltung der Arbeitgeberverbände auch aus profitmaximierendem Kalkül seiner Mitglieder erklärt werden.
Firm Wage Premia, Industrial Relations, and Rent Sharing in Germany
IWH Discussion Papers,
This paper investigates the influence of industrial relations on firm wage premia in Germany. OLS regressions for the firm effects from a two-way fixed effects decomposition of workers’ wages by Card, Heining, and Kline (2013) document that average premia are larger in firms bound by collective agreements and in firms with a works council, holding constant firm performance. RIF regressions show that premia are less dispersed among covered firms but more dispersed among firms with a works council. Hence, deunionisation is the only among the suspects investigated that contributes to explaining the marked rise in the premia dispersion over time.
Works Councils and Other Plant-specific Forms of Employee Participation – Substitutes or Complements?
Using data from the IAB Establishment Panel (2004-2013), this paper analyses the incidence, development and interdependence of works councils and other, typically managementinitiated forms of employee participation (such as round tables) in Germany. In the private sector, the incidence of works councils and other forms of participation is similar, but in very few establishments both bodies exist simultaneously. Econometric analyses based on recursive probit models indicate that partly different factors explain the existence of works councils and other forms of participation. Both bodies correlate negatively with respect to their incidence, foundation, and dissolution. This suggests that there exists a predominantly substitutive relationship between works councils and other forms of employee participation.
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The Dynamic Effects of Works Councils on Plant Productivity: First Evidence from Panel Data
British Journal of Industrial Relations,
We estimate dynamic effects of works councils on labour productivity using newly available information from West German establishment panel data. Conditioning on plant fixed effects and control variables, we find negative productivity effects during the first five years after council introduction but a steady and substantial increase in the councils’ productivity effect thereafter. Our findings support a causal interpretation for the positive correlation between council existence and plant productivity that has been frequently reported in previous studies.
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