AIAS Lunch Seminar 4 December - Guy Vernon (Southampton Business School)

Do unions promote or destroy industry in the OECD? From productivity growth effects to employment growth effects

Guy Vernon

Day: Thursday 4 December 2014
Time: 12.15 – 13.15 hrs.
Location: AIAS, 2nd floor, G building, Nieuwe Prinsengracht 130, Amsterdam
Registration: Please send an email, preferably before Wednesday 3 December, 12.00 hrs, to register.
A sandwich will then be provided.


Vernon & Rogers (2013 BJIR) and Vernon (2013 early view EJIR) have recently shown, with comparative historical data, that unions’ predominant organizing principle (POP), or external structure, is crucial to the impact of the strength of unions or joint regulation on manufacturing productivity growth. Under industrial, or encompassing, unionism greater strength promotes productivity growth, whilst under segmented, and most particularly craft & general, unionism greater strength impedes it. The present paper considers the implications for manufacturing employment growth, revealing that here too unions’ effects are contingent upon the POP, but that these effects are distinct to those on productivity growth.
Under encompassing unionism, the strength of unions or joint regulation is inconsequential. In contrast, where segmented unionism predominates such strength generally inhibits the growth in manufacturing employment. However, the experience of Denmark through 1972-82 demonstrates that there need not be such detrimental consequences for manufacturing employment growth even under segmented, and indeed specifically craft and general, unionism. The general findings on contingency, the exceptional findings regarding Denmark, and the insensitivity of the results to control for aggregate profit share point to the relevance of the enterprise-level responsiveness of pay to productivity. Thus, whilst it seems the implications of union activity for what Vernon (2013 early view EJIR) terms ‘employee appropriability’ underlie the productivity growth effects of unions established by Vernon & Rogers (2013 BJIR), it is the implications of union activity for employer appropriability which drive the effects on manufacturing employment growth.

Bio Guy Vernon, Senior Lecturer in HRM at Southampton Business School

Guy’s formal education is in economics – he obtained his PhD (Economics) from Warwick (examiners: Andrew Glyn and Paul K. Edwards) in 2000.

However, through his PhD, Guy broadened his interests in political economy to encompass industrial and political sociology and industrial relations.

This was honed into specialism in cross-national comparative employee relations and international HRM through posts at Oxford, Kings College London, Henley Management College and (from 2007) Southampton Business School.

Guy is particularly interested in the implications of people management for organizational and industrial performance.

In the last few years (since 2011), Guy has published in:

  • the British Journal of Industrial Relations (ABS 4*),
  • European Journal of Industrial Relations (3*),
  • International Journal of Human Resource Management (3*)
  • Economic and Industrial Democracy (3*),
  • and completed a project for the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Meanwhile, he has (co-)authored the third edition of a leading textbook on international HRM, whilst delivering closely evidence-based teaching typically evaluated by students in the top decile and praised externally for its quality.

Next lunch seminar: 11 December*

Technostress and the right to disconnect
Jan Popma
Senior researcher in Labour, Risk and Regulation HSI, University of Amsterdam

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