Allies or Competitors? A Contingency Perspective on the Relationship between Unionization and High-Performance Work Systems

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 12:00pm to 2:00pm
Rutgers' Labor Education Center


We argue for a contingency perspective to reconcile the mixed findings about the relationship between unionization and high-performance work systems (HPWSs) in previous research. Specifically, we examined the roles of varieties of capitalism, different national contexts of product and labor markets, and stages of globalization in moderating this relationship.

Through a meta-analysis of 92 independent studies (N = 40,987), we found that the unionization-HPWSs relationship varied across types of market economies, such that the relationship was negative in studies conducted in liberal market economies and positive in studies conducted in coordinated market economies. Moreover, we found that the unionization-HPWSs relationship tended to be more positive in countries with higher export intensity or higher protection of employment security.

Finally, our findings suggested that the unionization-HPWSs relationship co-varied with stages of globalization, such that the relationship was more positive in coordinated market economies and less negative in liberal market economies in the latest stage of globalization after 2000 than in the previous one. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.  

This talk is by SMLR Professor Mingwei Liu and co-sponsored by the Center for Global Work and Employment and Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations