Industrial conflict in Britain
Dickerson, Andrew P. (1992) Industrial conflict in Britain. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b1410963~S15
The economic analysis of conflict in Britain
has previously concentrated on
examining aggregate strike frequency. The thesis recognises the limitations of this
approach and argues for the investigation of a broader definition of conflict and at a
more disaggregated level. While weakly encompassing previous theoretical work, the
principal objective is to establish the patterns and trends pertaining to wider set of
measures of conflict in post-war Britain. The empirical investigation of these
disaggregated dimensions of conflict and their inter-relationships appears to have
previously received only very limited attention.
Following a critique of the extant theoretical and empirical literature, the first
substantive chapter examines the traditional aggregate- econometric models of strike
frequency. These are shown to be unsatisfactory in a number of ways. The chapter
then turns to the central issue of the procyclicality of strikes. It is shown that while the
total number of strikes is only very loosely related to the cycle, strikes arising over the
level of remuneration bear a much closer correspondence with the level of economic
activity and this finding accords with many of the theoretical models that have been
proposed for strike. activity. The chapter concludes with an examination of a cyclical-political
model of strikes within which the impact of the recent reforms in labour
legislation is also investigated.
One of the central arguments of the thesis is that the emphasis on strike frequency is
inappropriate. This is most clearly illustrated by the fact that while strike frequency
fell by almost one quarter between 1980 and 1984, the incidence of strikes at the
establishment level actually increased by 45%. An examination of the determinants of
the incidence of conflict activity forms the basis of the second substantive chapter of
the thesis. As a subsidiary theme, the complementary nature of strike and non-strike
action is also explored.
The next chapter investigates the ceteris paribus differences in strike probabilities
between the public and private sectors. While the levels of strike incidence and
frequency appear to be much higher in the public sector, much of the divergence is
found to be a consequence of differences in the characteristics of the two sectors.
Additionally, when weighted by employment and/or union coverage, strike frequency
is found to be lower in the public sector and, moreover, each of these strikes tends to
be shorter and involve fewer workers.
The final substantive chapter looks at the impact of strikes on industry output and
efficiency. The structure of the model is novel in that a production frontier is
estimated without having recourse to an explicit functional form for the inefficiency
component. This is due to the availability of a panel of data in which the fixed effects
can be viewed as capturing both the inefficiency term as well as the industry fixed
effect. A second stage estimation is then used to identify each industry's level of
efficiency. While strikes do not appear to reduce output in aggregate, there is some
evidence to suggest that those industries which incur a large number of short strikes
do have their output significantly disrupted. This loss of output also serves to make
these industries less efficient in general.
Thus a major conclusion is that a disaggregated approach is necessary in order that
the multi-dimensional nature of conflict and the sectoral diversity in the incidence of
industrial action can be investigated in a satisfactory manner. Any new theories of
conflict will need to encompass the empirical findings of the thesis.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Labor disputes -- Great Britain|
|Official Date:||May 1992|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of Economics|
|Supervisor(s)/Advisor:||Stewart, Mark B. ; Knight, Ben|
|Sponsors:||University of Warwick ; Economic and Social Research Council (Great Britain) (ESRC) (A0042872414)|
|Extent:||x, 300 leaves|
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