Collective Bargaining and High-Involvement Management in Comparative Perspective: Evidence from U.S. and German Call Centers


  • * Virginia Doellgast is at King's College London, Department of Management, London. E-mail: Support for this research was provided by the Hans Boeckler Stiftung, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Fulbright Commission, and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies. The author is grateful for comments from Rosemary Batt, Stephen Deery, Ian Greer, David Guest, Ursula Holtgrewe, Harry Katz, Hyunji Kwon, Riccardo Peccei, and participants in the Cornell University ILR Workshop and the Global Call Center Project Workshop at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin.


This article assesses the relationship between national and collective bargaining institutions, management practices, and employee turnover, based on case study and survey evidence from U.S. and German call center workplaces. German call centers were more likely to adopt high-involvement management practices than those in the United States, even across workplaces with no collective bargaining institutions. Within Germany, union and works council presence was positively associated with high-involvement practices, while works council presence alone had no effect. In contrast, union presence in U.S. call centers showed either a negative association or no association with these practices. National and collective bargaining institutions and high-involvement management practices were associated with lower quit rates in both countries, with only partial mediation.