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Beyond Varieties of CapitalismConflict, Contradictions, and Complementarities in the European Economy$
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Bob Hancké, Martin Rhodes, and Mark Thatcher

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199206483

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199206483.001.0001

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Wage Bargaining and Comparative Advantage in EMU

Wage Bargaining and Comparative Advantage in EMU

(p.122) 4 Wage Bargaining and Comparative Advantage in EMU
Beyond Varieties of Capitalism

Bob Hancké (Contributor Webpage)

Andrea Monika Herrmann

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the effects of shifts in wage-bargaining systems on the organization of firms in EMU member-states, and argues that the move to coordinated wage bargaining induced by the Maastricht criteria has led firms in EMU member-states to align their product market strategies with the existing institutional framework. Where wage bargaining became (or was) centrally coordinated, firms increasingly pursued high-end product market strategies, while firms in countries where wage bargaining followed a decentralised coordination path opted for low-end strategies. This argument is developed in three steps. First it assesses how firms in the most important export industries adjusted their competitive strategies in the course of the 1990s, and finds that companies increasingly pursued product market strategies which are supported by national labour-market institutions. It then examines how several key firm-level indicators of competitiveness and labour market organisation evolve and find that skill profiles, workplace cooperation, and career development were adjusted to reflect the dominant product market strategy. The chapter concludes by comparing the strategies of employers with regard to wage-bargaining in Italy and Spain over the 1990s.

Keywords:   comparative institutional advantage, wage bargaining, Italy, Spain

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