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Department of Economics, University of Bergen Working Papers in Economics, Department of Economics, University of Bergen

No 13/07:
Technology resistance and globalisation with trade unions: the choice between employment protection and flexicurity

Kjell Erik Lommerud () and Odd Rune Straume ()

Abstract: We analyse how different labour market institutions — employment protection versus ‘flexicurity’ — affect technology adoption in unionised firms. The analysis is cast in a setting of corporate globalisation, where domestic unionised labour face the double threat of labour-saving technological innovations and international outsourcing of domestic production. In the main part of the analysis, we analyse trade unions’ incentives to oppose or endorse the adoption of new technology. Our main result is that both weaker employment protection and a higher reservation wage for unionsed workers (interpreted as increased ‘flexicurity’) contribute to making trade unions more willing to accept labour-saving technological change. Furthermore, these effects are reinforced by globalisation. In an extension to the main analysis, we endogenise the technological progress by studying firms’ incentives to invest in new technology and find that these incentives are also generally strengthened in a labour market with more ‘flexicurity’.

Keywords: Technology adoption; Globalisation; Trade unions; Employment protection; Flexicurity.; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: F16; F23; J51; O33; (follow links to similar papers)

30 pages, October 30, 2007

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