No. 7/2012: Rebellion against Reason? A Study of Expressive Choice and Strike


We challenge the conventional view that strikes are caused by asymmetric information regarding firm profitability. We build an expressive model of strikes where punishing unfairness provides the expressive benefit of voting for a strike. The model predicts that larger union size increases wage offers and strike incidence. Also, although standard asymmetric information still counts, it is the employer who is not fully informed about the union's emotionality, thereby contributing to strikes. An empirical test using UK data supports the predictions. Larger union size is linked to more strikes and other industrial actions, even when controlling for standard asymmetric information.