International Handbook of Trade Unions

International Handbook of Trade Unions

Elgar original reference

Edited by John T. Addison and Claus Schnabel

This Handbook is an authoritative and invaluable reference tool, uniquely analysing the forces governing unionism, union behaviour and union impact from a variety of perspectives, both theoretical and empirical. The 14 chapters are written in an accessible style by acknowledged leading specialists from the fields of economics and industrial relations. They offer a truly international perspective on this important subject.

Chapter 1: Introduction

John T. Addison and Claus Schnabel

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, economics and finance, labour economics, social policy and sociology, labour policy


John T. Addison and Claus Schnabel This Handbook seeks to give the reader a sense of the drama in the everyday workings of modern labour markets. There is no better illustration of this than the situation confronted by the trade union. Unions have been buffeted by competitive pressures more than most other institutions. At one level – where unions are combinations in restraint of trade – this result is neither surprising nor unwelcome. But unions are more than this. The twin aims of this volume are to demonstrate the various facets of unionism and thence to address the consequences of what it is that unions do. It is then left up to the reader to form a judgement on the institution and to assess to the seriousness of union decline (or indeed otherwise) in his or her country. Necessarily, the contributors to this volume do not share a common view of the union institution or indeed its fate. Although trade unions have long been important economic and political actors in industrialized countries, academic interest in them has been thin historically. This was especially true of the economics discipline. As late as 1975, in his short survey of the economic analysis of the union institution, Johnson (1975, p. 23) stated that ‘[t]he study of the behavior and effects of trade unions is not currently one of the major growth industries of the economics profession’. And yet, after surveying the union literature in the mid1980s, Oswald (1985), Farber (1986) and Hirsch...