March divided, fight united? Trade union cohesion and government appeal for concertation
West European Politics (Journal IF: 2.512)
Co-author: Fedra Negri
Replication material: andreaceron.com/publications
What is worth remembering:
- We measure policy preferences of trade unions by hand-coding unions’ congress motions
- When the government policy position is closer to trade unions, the government is more willing to appeal for concertation
- When trade unions are more polarized, they become more appealing to the government as it can exploits unions’ division to negotiate a better deal
Why does the government appeal for concertation? Starting from the principal‒agent framework and delegation theory, the article argues that the government is more willing to share decision-making power with trade unions when the policy preferences endorsed by the unions are closer to those of the cabinet. Furthermore, it maintains that government propensity to negotiate with trade unions increases as the heterogeneity of union policy preferences grows because the cabinet can exploit its agenda-setting power to divide the union front. The article tests these two hypotheses through a longitudinal analysis of the Italian case (1946–2014). In detail, it takes advantage of two original datasets built through content analysis that provide unique in-depth information on the policy preferences of parties and cabinets and measures the policy positions of the main Italian trade unions, thus allowing assessment of their reciprocal heterogeneity. The results confirm the expectations.
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