Trade unions and productivity: the impact of union presence on labour productivity in Korean manufacturing
This thesis examines the theoretical and empirical relationship between trade unions and productivity in the Korean auto and cement manufacturing industries, during the 1980s. It challenges the tenets of the existing debate by stressing the contingent nature of this relationship. In particular this thesis pinpoints inadequacies of econometric analysis as the only method of judging this association between union presence and productivity, because this ignores national and historical industrial relations contexts. Moreover, the polarity between positive and negative views of trade union influences on productivity is seen as needlessly limited, failing as it does to consider the full context of labour-management dynamics within the employment relationship. Empirically, this thesis focuses on the unionism and productivity during two contrasting political periods: the first a time of constraint on union action and the second a period of relative freedom. It examines these periods using a full range of quantitative and qualitative analysis. Of particular significant is the inclusion of attitude surveys of the relationship between the presence of unions and productivity conducted amongst workers, managers and trade union officials. The broad conclusion of the thesis is a rejection of the validity of continuing to examine the relationship between trade unions and productivity without locating this within national and historical industrial relations contexts.