English title: Trade Union Decline and What Next: Is Germany a Special Case?

Author(s): Jelle Visser -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2007


This paper commences with a survey of international trends in union membership, union density and collective bargaining, while focusing on the comparative position of trade unions in Germany. The author considers three hypotheses concerning the development of unionism in recent decades. The first one is that globalisation and structural change in the economy and labour market pull all countries towards a neo-liberal convergence of which union decline is one manifestation. The second predicts that resilient national institutions of collective bargaining and union-employer cooperation enable continued divergence in unionization levels across Western economies. The third one, which seems particularly relevant for Germany, states that feedback mechanisms from internal diversity among both employers and workers trigger processes of institutional destabilisation and decline from which both employers associations and unions suffer. In the final part of the paper the author gives a number of theoretical and empirical reasons why reversing union decline is very difficult and presents a major challenge for unions in Germany and elsewhere.

Volume: 14

Issue: 2

From page no: 97

To page no: 117

Refereed: Yes


Journal: Industrielle Beziehungen : Zeitschrift für Arbeit, Organisation und Management

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