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Mediating EU liberalisation and negotiating flexibility: a coalitional approach to wage bargaining change

Kornelakis, Andreas (2011) Mediating EU liberalisation and negotiating flexibility: a coalitional approach to wage bargaining change. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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How do we explain divergent trajectories of change in wage bargaining institutions? The advancement of European economic integration, leading to markets liberalisation and increased competition, was expected to bring the breakdown of centralised bargaining arrangements. This expectation was even stronger given the internationalisation of new management practices, pushing European firms to enhance their competitiveness via increasing flexibility. Despite strong theoretical expectations towards a generalised breakdown of wage bargaining, one finds divergent trajectories of change across European countries and sectors. The task of this thesis is to explain the puzzle of varied responses in otherwise similar sectors. Banking and telecommunications sectors in Italy and Greece display a diversity of paths of institutional change: breakdown of bargaining, reform of bargaining, successful centralisation, and failed centralisation. The direction of the paths of institutional change may be explained in large part by two factors ignored by earlier literature: ‘employer associability’ and ‘labourstate coalitions’. On the one hand, it is argued that employers associations which possess the legal competence and take into account the collective interests of both large and smaller firms, may reform the wage bargaining institution, getting the ‘best of both worlds’ for their members. Additionally, a ‘labour-state coalition’ may moderate the destabilising pressures to wage bargaining, as long as trade unions are able to speak with a ‘single voice’. The government will not only be motivated by electoral concerns, but also support centralised bargaining to gain ‘room for manoeuvre’ for tactical policy trade-offs advancing its agenda. Overall, the thesis refines earlier propositions, suggesting a more nuanced causal mechanism to explain institutional change. The argument speaks to wider debates in comparative political economy and comparative employment systems; it fleshes out empirically the role of the state in Mediterranean capitalism and highlights factors that moderate pressures to convergence to the Liberal Market model.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Andreas Kornelakis
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Sets: Departments > European Institute
Supervisor: Featherstone, Kevin and van Wijnbergen, Christina

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