Boosting worker power in a hostile atmosphere of industrial relations may just intensify negative-sum conflict between workers and managers, whereas in a cooperative atmosphere (as in Europe), this conflict may be less pronounced.

“Cooperative industrial relations may be a crucial complement to codetermination. A long-standing hypothesis is that the effects of increasing worker power crucially hinge on the pre-existing quality of labor management relationships (Freeman and Medoff, 1984; Kochan and Kimball, 2019). In a hostile atmosphere, boosting workers’ authority might simply intensify negative-sum conflict between workers and managers, consistent with negative effects of unionization on firm performance in the United States, at least on average (Lee and Mas, 2012; Frandsen, forthcoming). By contrast, giving workers co-decision-making rights in a cooperative atmosphere might produce less harmful results.”

theoretical