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Does Pattern Bargaining Explain Wage Restraint in the German Public Sector?

by  Donato Di Carlo  (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies)
Labour&welfare Lunch Seminar
2 May 2018, h. 12.30

Discussant: Lorenzo Bordogna (University of Milan)

SPS Seminar Room (Room 215, II Floor,  Passione side)
Dipartimento di Scienze sociali e politiche
Via Conservatorio 7, Milano


German public sector wage restraint has been explained through the presence of a specific type of inter-sectoral wage coordination in the industrial relations system – i.e., export sector-led pattern bargaining. This paper has a twofold ambition. First, as a literature-assessing exercise, I review the literature in industrial relations and comparative political economy (CPE) and find that (1) the origins and mechanics of inter-sectoral wage coordination through pattern bargaining have never been laid out clearly; (2) the mechanisms of the pattern bargaining thesis have never been tested empirically; and (3) the CPE literature reveals a limiting export-sector bias. Second, as a theory-testing exercise, I perform hoop tests to verify whether the pattern bargaining hypothesis can really account for wage restraint in the German public sector. I find that Germany cannot be considered a case of export sector-driven pattern bargaining. These findings challenge core tenets of a longstanding scholarship in both CPE and industrial relations. Most importantly, they open a new research agenda for the study of public sector wage-setting that should shift its focus to public sector employment relations, public finance, public administrations, and the politics of fiscal policy.


The Labor & Welfare Lunch Seminars are a forum for discussion and exchange of ideas devised by a group of post-doctoral fellows from the Department of Social and Political Sciences where young researchers dealing with issues related to the labor market, labor and welfare policies and industrial relations can present and discuss their work.


19 aprile 2018
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