Export Dependence and Institutional Change in Wage Bargaining in Germany

TitleExport Dependence and Institutional Change in Wage Bargaining in Germany
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsRaess, Damian
JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
Pagination282 - 294
Keywordscollective bargaining, Germany, globalization, institutional convergence, labor relations, wage bargaining, work councils

This article explores the adjustment of wage bargaining institutions to international trade in Germany. Embracing IPE as opposed to CPE lenses yields a novel interpretation of change in the institution of wage bargaining. Export dependence of a sector, we argue, has destabilizing effects for industry-wide bargaining by sparking an intra-sectoral cleavage between domestic- and export-oriented enterprises. Specifically, the greater the degree of export dependence of a sector, the greater the degree to which domestic-oriented enterprises within that sector will abandon collective bargaining. We also explain how workplace employee representation through works councils mitigates this effect, such that the presence of works councils helps domestically oriented firms to hold to collective bargaining agreements in the face of a sector's deepening exposure to export markets. These claims find empirical support in the history of labor relations developments in the metal industry and, especially, in extensive analysis of a cross-section of establishments. Our findings attribute major responsibility to the firms driving globalization for undermining collective bargaining institutions and suggest that economic globalization is a cause of dualization. In all, the article provides fresh ammunition for a version of globalization-induced institutional convergence.