Friday, 4 January 2013

The Comparative Advantage of Non-Union Voice in Britain, 1980–2004

an article by Alex Bryson (National Institute for Economic and Social Research), Paul Willman (London School of Economics), Rafael Gomez (University of Toronto) and Tobias Kretschmer (University of Munich) published in Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society Volume 52 Issue Supplement s1 (January 2013)


Non-union direct voice has replaced union representative voice as the primary avenue for employee voice in the British private sector.

This study explains this development by providing a framework for examining the relationship between employee voice and workplace outcomes.

Voice is associated with lower voluntary turnover, especially in the case of union voice.

However, union voice is also associated with greater workplace conflict. We argue changes in voice in Britain are not best understood using a simple union/non-union dichotomy.

Union effects on workplace outcomes and the incidence of human resource management hinge on whether it coexists at the workplace with non-union voice in what we term a “dual” system.

In the first part of the 21st century, these dual voice systems were performing at least as well as non-union only regimes, suggesting that the rise of non-union regimes is attributed to something other than clear comparative performance advantages over other forms of voice.

JEL Classifications: J24, J51, J52, J53, J63

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