(What) do unions maximise?

Author(s): Gahan, Peter G

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Abstract Highly formalised models of nion behaviour have been developed and are widely sed within neoclassical economics. This approach is justified by the argument that most goals pursued by nions can be reduced to a wage (or wage-equivalent)-employment trade-off. However, the strong assumptions made about nion goals and preferences, how these are determined and the range of issues over which a nion will seek to bargain with a firm are not supported by extensive empirical evidence. This paper explores these issues through a survey of nion leaders to ascertain the range of nion goals and their preferences, and the types of issues over which nions bargain with employers. The results of the survey present convincing evidence that standard neoclassical models do not adequately capture nion bargaining behaviour, or nion goals and preferences. The findings presented here also throw open, but do not resolve, the question of whether nions are 'rational maximisers'. The most interesting result-not widely found within the economics or industrial relations literature-concerns the nature of nion bargaining preferences. Union bargaining over employment appears to be asymmetric around current levels of employment, in that nions appear to care more about the employment implications of their bargaining strategies when they are likely to result in employment decreases.
Publication Title Cambridge journal of economics
Publisher Oxford Univ. Press
Publication Date 2002
URIs http://www.econis.eu/PPNSET?PPN=348199759
http://www.jstor.org/stable/23600286
http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcAuth=SerialsSolutions&SrcApp=Summon&KeyUT=000175163100001&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=WOS
http://search.proquest.com/docview/210488996
Keywords Analysis
Australia
Collective action
Collective bargaining
Current Heterodox Approaches: Institutional, Evolutionary (B52)
Data analysis
Decision theory
Dispute Resolution: Strikes, Arbitration, and Mediation, Collective Bargaining (J52)
ECONOMIC-THEORY
ECONOMICS
EMPLOYMENT DETERMINATION
Economic aspects
Economic behaviour
Economics
INSIDERS
INSTITUTIONS
Industrial economics
Institutional economics
Institutionalism
LABOR-MARKET
Labor unions
MODEL
OBJECTIVES
Oceania
PREFERENCES
Rational choice
Rational choice theory
Rational expectations
Studies
TRADE-UNION
Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects (J51)
Trade union objectives
Trade unions
Trades unions
Union
Union leadership
WAGE DETERMINATION
collective action
institutional economics
rational choice theory
trade union objectives
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