Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Seminar Papers,
Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies

No 620: Centralized Bargaining, Multi-Tasking and Work Incentives

Assar Lindbeck () and Dennis J. Snower ()
Additional contact information
Assar Lindbeck: Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University, Postal: Stockholm University, S-106 69 Stockholm, Sweden
Dennis J. Snower: Department of Economics, Birkbeck College, Postal: University of London, 7 Gresse Street , London W1P 1PA, UK,

Abstract: The paper examines the implications of an important aspect of the ongoing reorganization of work - the move from occupational specialization toward multi-tasking - for centralized wage bargaining. The analysis shows how, on account of this reorganization, centralized bargaining becomes increasingly nefficient and detrimental to firms’ profit opportunities, since it prevents firms from offering their employees adequate incentives to perform the appropriate mix of tasks. The paper also shows how centralized bargaining inhibits firms from using wages to induce workers to learn how to use their experience from one set of tasks to enhance their performance at other tasks. In this way, the paper helps explain the increasing resistance to centralized bargaining in various advanced market economies.

Keywords: Centralized wage bargaining; restructuring; organization of firms; technological change; information flows; employment; wage formation; unemployment

JEL-codes: D23; D80; E24; J30; J50; L20; O30

11 pages, October 30, 1997

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