Trade Union Strength in a Globalized World

While trade union density is the most influential and most commonly used indicator to map trade union strength, comparing between countries and time, Anne Metten argues that trade union density is lacking both specificity and comparability. The comparability of union density is problematic because the strength of trade unions is a more multi-faceted phenomenon than can be captured by the mere proportion of union members. Additionally, many studies on industrial relations neglect developing countries. Therefore, based on a combination of different theoretical approaches that identify determinants of trade union strength involving developing countries, she offers a novel, composite index that is better at capturing trade union strength than previous indices. First evaluations of this Collective Labor Force (CLF) Index, which covers the years 2000 to 2016 in 72 countries, show that it is quite capable of doing so.

Subsequent studies working with the CLF will shed a new light on previous research findings on industrial relations and trade unions. Particularly in the context of globalization, research on the influence of trade unions on globalization and vice versa has produced ambiguous results in recent decades. A research project together with Christian Martin will shed light on this relationship. For further information, contact Anne Metten.