Arbitrator Behavior in Public Sector Wage Disputes

David E. Bloom

NBER Working Paper No. 2351
Issued in August 1987
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

This study analyzes a new set of data on the decisions of conventional arbitrators. The main goal is to draw inferences about the extent to which conventional arbitration decisions are fashioned as mechanical compromises of the parties' final offers, without reference to the exogenous facts involved in different disputes. The results of the analysis are remarkably clear: conventional arbitrators tend to split-the-difference between the parties' final offers with virtually no evidence of additional systematic reference to the facts of the cases. However, since there is a substantial amount of unexplained variance in the arbitration decisions, this evidence of mechanical compromise behavior should be viewed as characterizing the overall operation of conventional arbitration mechanisms and not the behavior of individual arbitrators in any particular case. Indeed, the results are consistent with the view that individual arbitrators pay close attention to the facts of the cases, but that there is considerable variation in the structure of different arbitrators' preference functions.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w2351

Published: Arbitrator Behavior in Public Sector Wage Disputes, David E. Bloom. in When Public Sector Workers Unionize, Freeman and Ichniowski. 1988

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