Are Pro-Reformers Better Performers?

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 18/02

Date: September 2002


Tim R.L. Fry
Kelly Jarvis
Joanne Loundes


There appears to be widespread consensus in industry and government that a switch from centralized bargaining to an enterprise based system benefits productivity. However, research suggests that the link between bargaining structures and worker productivity is dubious and that empirical research has been unable to discover a relationship between them. In this paper we use data from Australian companies at the enterprise level and examine the links between performance and a range of human resources, industrial relations and management variables to determine whether bargaining structures do impact on performance. In particular, we investigate whether organisations that have incorporated aspects of the industrial relations reform agenda have outperformed organisations that have not. The results from the application of a treatment effects regression model show evidence that organisations adopting the industrial relations reform agenda report significantly higher levels of self-assessed labour productivity relative to their competitors, even after controlling for a number of different factors.

Download Paper