Works Councils and Employer Attitudes Toward the Incentive Effects of HRM Practices - CLEO Skip to main content



A growing number of econometric examinations show that works councils substantially shape the personnel policy of firms in Germany. Firms with works councils make greater use of various human resource management (HRM) practices. This gives rise to the question of whether employers view the shaping of personnel policy positively or negatively. Against this background, the purpose of this paper is to examine the influence of works councils on employer attitudes toward HRM practices.


Using data from manufacturing establishments, multivariate and recursive multivariate models are applied to estimate the determinants of employer attitudes toward HRM practices.


The incidence of a works council increases the probability of positive employer attitudes toward the incentive effects of performance pay, profit sharing, promotions, further training and worker involvement in decision making. However, it decreases the probability of positive employer attitudes toward high wages. The results suggest that works councils play a redistribution role in wages and a collective voice role in the other HRM practices.


The study complements examinations focusing on the influence of works councils on the formal presence of HRM practices. There are two potential limitations of focusing solely on formal HRM practices. First, the formal presence of a practice does not necessarily mean that the practice is effectively used. Second, a firm may informally use HRM practices even though the practices have not been formally adopted. The study provides insights into the question of whether or not works councils influence employers’ support for the various practices. This support can be important for the effective use of the practices, regardless of whether they are of formal or informal nature.