The Theory of Industrial Disputes

  • J. R. Hicks


It is now time for us to take a further step towards actuality. The equilibrium labour market, which we studied in the first chapters of this book, could never exist; it is merely a convenient abstraction, by which we can isolate for thorough examination some, but only some, of the fundamental factors at work. The free labour market, which we studied in Chapters III.-V., is, on the other hand, a real possibility; markets very similar in their working to this have existed and do exist. Yet it is hardly possible for a market to exist, as we have been supposing, in a condition of violent change, without competition being displaced to some extent by combination. The combination may be abortive, in which case the account already given is reasonably complete, apart from some rearrangement of motives; but if it is not abortive (and in advanced communities it is unusual for it to be so altogether) we have yet some significant strokes to add to our picture.


High Wage Union Leader Resistance Curve Favourable Factor Favourable Term 
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  1. 1.
    This possible failure of leaders to carry their followers with them is of course the foundation of Marshall’s claim that “strong Unions facilitate business” (Economics of Industry, 1907, p. 385). The more control over their followers the leaders possess—and formal organisation with the accumulation of funds gives a considerable amount of control automatically—the easier is it for employers to come to binding agreements with the Unions, and the less is the probability of strikes.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For the classical statement of this argument, see Marshall, Economics of Industry (1879), p. 206. At present we are only concerned with these further effects of Trade Union action as far as they affect the willingness of employers to concede Trade Union claims. They will be elaborated much more fully in Chapters IX. and X.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© J. R. Hicks 1963

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. R. Hicks
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OxfordUK

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