Journal Article

What determined employer voice choice in Britain in the 20th century? A critique of the ‘Sound of Silence’ model

Andy Charlwood

in Socio-Economic Review

Published on behalf of Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics

Volume 4, issue 2, pages 301-309
Published in print May 2006 | ISSN: 1475-1461
Published online March 2006 | e-ISSN: 1475-147X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwl011
What determined employer voice choice in Britain in the 20th century? A critique of the ‘Sound of Silence’ model

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In this paper I critique and then develop Willman, Bryson and Gomez's (2006) ‘Sound of Silence’ model of employer voice choice. I argue that the original cost/benefits based model, while potentially very useful, particularly for investigating cross-sectional variation in the incidence of voice, is curiously ill equipped to explain variation in voice arrangements over time. This shortcoming is the result of the failure to state explicitly some of the key determinants of the costs and benefits of employer voice choice, namely union power and political economic organisation. I demonstrate how these variables have influenced the development of voice arrangements in Britain over the course of the last century and argue that as a result of these constraints, employer voice choice is often no choice at all.

Keywords: Labour–management relations; JEL classification: J5

Journal Article.  3800 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy ; Corporate Social Responsibility ; Welfare Economics ; Political Economy ; Economic Sociology

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