Degree Name

Master of Commerce (Hons.)


Department of Economics


In order to estimate the effects of unions on the economic performance of the Australian Building and Construction Industry for the period 1984- 1996, an OLS regression is performed with union density acting as the measure of industry unionism. Output, profits and productivity are the industry performance measures under investigation. This paper finds that higher levels of union density are associated with increases in output and profits, a result that may have been surprising if the union voice function had been excluded from all reckoning. No significant result was recorded for the indicator of productivity. Voice, it is argued, was the key factor in producing the estimated results. The voice expressed by unions in the period under review (1984-1996) differed markedly from the voice expressed in the period immediately before it. It was this alteration in the expression of voice that represented the changing role of unions in the industry. From being overtly militant and anti-capitalist, they moved towards a position where at times they were incorporated into the greater movement of the neo-corporatist ethic. It is from this standpoint that it is argued that the estimated significant union positive influence on output and productivity in the Australian building and construction industry is a likely and non-spurious result

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