The German model of industrial relations: (where) does it still exist?

Schnabel C, Oberfichtner M (2019)

Publication Language: English

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2019


Book Volume: 239

Pages Range: 5-37

Journal Issue: 1

DOI: 10.1515/jbnst-2018-0158


Using data from the representative IAB Establishment Panel, this paper charts changes in the two main pillars of the German IR model over the last 20 years. It shows that collective bargaining coverage and worker representation via works councils have substantially fallen outside the public sector. Less formalized and weaker institutions such as voluntary orientation of uncovered firms towards sectoral agreements and alternative forms of employee representation at the work-place have partly attenuated the overall erosion in coverage. Multivariate analyses indicate that the traditional German IR model (with both collective agreements and works councils) is more likely found in larger and older plants, and it is less likely in plants managed by the owner, in single and foreign-owned plants, in individually-owned firms or partnerships, and in exporting plants. In contrast, more than 60 % of German plants did not exhibit bargaining coverage or orientation or any kind of worker representation in 2015. Such an absence of the main institutional features of the German IR model is mainly found in small and medium-sized plants, in particular in the service sector and in eastern Germany, and its extent is increasing dramatically.

Authors with CRIS profile

Involved external institutions

How to cite


Schnabel, C., & Oberfichtner, M. (2019). The German model of industrial relations: (where) does it still exist? Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik, 239(1), 5-37.


Schnabel, Claus, and Michael Oberfichtner. "The German model of industrial relations: (where) does it still exist?" Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik 239.1 (2019): 5-37.

BibTeX: Download