Pattern bargaining stands out as both an under-researched and controversial subject. This article is an analytical and empirical contribution to this debate. Theoretically, it provides a conceptual framework, which enables analysis to systematically differentiate between distinct forms of pattern bargaining in terms of scope, agency, development and function, which arise from differing contexts in terms of interest configuration, power relations and economic conditions. This framework is used to develop testable hypotheses on pattern bargaining as a mechanism of inter-industry bargaining co-ordination. The empirical part of the article examines these hypotheses for collective bargaining from 1969 to 2004 in Austria, which is commonly seen as a paradigm case of pattern bargaining. The article concludes by highlighting the broader implications its findings have from a cross-nationally comparative perspective.