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October 2014 (Vol. 67, No. 4)

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Balancing Efficiency, Equity, and Voice: The Impact of Unions and High-Involvement Work Practices on Work Outcomes By Dionne M. Pohler and Andrew A. Luchak

Theory and research surrounding employee voice in organizations have often treated high-involvement work practices (HIWPs) as substitutes for unions. Drawing on recent theoretical developments in the field of industrial relations, specifically the collective voice/institutional response model of union impact and research on HIWPs in organizations, the authors propose that these institutions are better seen as complements whereby greater balance is achieved between efficiency, equity, and voice when HIWPS are implemented in the presence of unions. Based on a national sample of Canadian organizations, they find employees covered by a union experience fewer intensification pressures under higher levels of diffusion of HIWPs such that they work less unpaid overtime, have fewer grievances, and take fewer paid sick days. Job satisfaction is maximized under the combination of unions and HIWPs.

The "Suite" Smell of Success: Personnel Practices and Firm Performance By Richard Fabling and Arthur Grimes

The authors use a panel of more than 1,500 New Zealand firms, from a diverse range of industries, to examine how the adoption of human resource management (HRM) practices affects firm performance. The panel is based on managerial responses to mandatory surveys of management practices in 2001 and 2005 administered by the national statistical office and linked to objective, longitudinal firm performance data. The authors find that, after controlling for time-invariant firm characteristics and changes in a wide range of business practices and firm developments, a suite of general HRM practices has a positive impact on firm labor and multifactor productivity. Conversely, these practices tend to have no effect on profitability, in part because the adoption of performance pay systems raises average wages in the firm.

Why Are the Relative Wages of Immigrants Declining? A Distributional Approach By Brahim Boudarbat and Thomas Lemieux

The authors show that the decline in the relative wages of immigrants in Canada is far from homogeneous across the wage distribution. The well-documented decline in the mean wage gap between immigrants and Canadian-born workers hides a much larger decline at the low end of the wage distribution, while the gap hardly changed at the top end of the distribution. Using standard OLS regressions and unconditional quantile regressions, the authors show that both the changes in the mean wage gap and in the gap at different quantiles are well explained by standard factors such as experience, education, and country of origin of immigrants. Interestingly, an important source of change in the wages of immigrants relative to the Canadian born is the aging of the baby boom generation, which has resulted in a relative increase in the labor market experience, and thus in the wages, of Canadian-born workers relative to immigrants.

Understanding the Native-Immigrant Wage Gap Using Matched Employer-Employee Data: Evidence from Germany By Cristian Bartolucci

In this article, the author proposes a new method for measuring wage discrimination that builds on the ideas and straightforward methodology first developed by Hellerstein and Neumark (1999). The author's method has three main advantages: It is robust to labor market segregation, it does not impose linearity on the wage-setting equation, and it not only is a test for discrimination but also produces a measure of discrimination. Using matched employer-employee data from Germany, the author finds that immigrants are being discriminated against. They receive wages that are 13% lower than the wages for native workers in the same firm.

IR Theory Built on the Founders' Principles with Empirical Application to Australia By Bruce E. Kaufman and Michael Barry

The authors identify 10 core principles of industrial relations (IR) theory and policy, based on the writings of British IR founders Beatrice Webb and Sidney Webb and U.S. IR founder John Commons. These principles are then represented diagrammatically in an expanded IR version of the Marshallian demand/supply (DS) model. The DS and IR models, representing on one side the merits of abstraction and parsimony and on the other realism and complexity, are applied to a case study: an analysis and explanation of the reasons behind the formation of the Australian IR system in the 1890s and its evolution to 2010. Although the DS model captures important forces behind the shift from a centralized and unionized employment system in the early period to a significantly decentralized and deunionized system in the latter period, the evidence indicates that the extra structural and behavioral elements in the IR model are important for a full and accurate explanation.

Health Insurance and Self-Employment: Evidence from Massachusetts By Xiaotong Niu

Previous studies have found that health insurance is an important component of workers' labor market decisions. In this article, the author studies the effect of health insurance availability and price on the likelihood of self-employment by examining the Massachusetts (MA) health care reform enacted in 2006. A model of compensating differentials predicts that the effect of the MA reform on the likelihood of self-employment is theoretically ambiguous because different components of the reform should have opposing effects. For a sample from the Current Population Survey, the reform leads to a large and significant increase in health insurance coverage, and it increases the likelihood of self-employment by 0.71 percentage points, or an 8.4% increase from the pre-reform average in MA. The estimated positive effect on the likelihood of self-employment persists, though decreases, in the long run. The empirical evidence suggests that a part of the decline is coming from the opposing effects of various components of the reform.

My End of the Bargain: Are There Cross-District Effects in Teacher Contract Provisions? By Dan Goldhaber, Lesley Lavery, and Roddy Theobald

A large literature on teacher collective bargaining describes the potential influence of the provisions in collectively bargained teacher union contracts on teachers and student achievement, but little is known about what influences the provisions that end up in these contracts. Using a unique data set made up of every active teacher collective bargaining agreement in Washington State, the authors estimate spatial lag models to explore the relationship between the restrictiveness of a bargained contract in one district and the restrictiveness of contracts in nearby districts. Employing various measures of geographic and institutional proximity, they find that spatial relationships play a major role in determining bargaining outcomes. These spatial relationships, however, are actually driven by two "institutional bargaining structures": Education Service Districts (ESDs), which support school districts, and Uniserv councils, which determine who is bargaining on behalf of local teachers' unions. This finding suggests that the influence of geographic distance found in previous studies of teacher wages may simply reflect the influence of these bargaining structures.

How "Collective" Is Union Citizenship Behavior? Assessing Individual and Coworker Antecedents By Ed Snape, Tom Redman, and Julian Gould-Williams

Contributing to an emerging literature on solidarity or group-norm effects on union participation, the authors examine the extent to which union citizenship behavior (UCB) can be characterized as a collective phenomenon. Findings from studies of UK local government workers and teachers suggest that, for organization-focused behaviors, it is meaningful to think of collective or group-level UCB. Furthermore, group-level UCB had a significant positive association with individual-level UCB. There was no evidence that a greater consistency of citizenship within a unit was associated with a stronger relationship between collective and individual citizenship behaviors. These findings suggest that it is worthwhile to analyze UCB as a collective phenomenon, and the authors call for more work on the contextual antecedents of union citizenship and participation.


Book Reviews

Flawed System/Flawed Self: Job Searching and Unemployment Experiences. By Ofer Sharone. Reviewed by Erin Hatton.

Behind the Kitchen Door. By Saru Jayaraman. Reviewed by Janice Fine.

Insurgency Trap: Labor Politics in Postsocialist China. By Eli Friedman. Reviewed by Mingwei Liu.

Informal Labor, Formal Politics, and Dignified Discontent in India. By Rina Agarwala. Reviewed by Akshay Mangla.