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Economic competitiveness and employee protections – a dichotomy? The World Bank Rigidity of Employment index in focus

Paul J. Davis (Assistant Professor at the Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics and Strategic Research, Almaty, Kazakhstan)

Human Resource Management International Digest

ISSN: 0967-0734

Article publication date: 30 August 2011




The purpose of this paper is to analyze the popular belief that for organizations (and countries) to be economically prosperous they require a highly flexible industrial relations framework in which to operate, that provides minimal protection for employees.


The paper uses new data from the World Bank and expert commentary to assess the validity of the above‐mentioned belief.


The paper explains that there are numerous examples of countries that are highly competitive and prosperous yet have rigid labor‐protection legislation and many instances of countries with very flexible labor law that are performing poorly economically. Therefore, there is no absolute link between economic prosperity/competitiveness and lax labor laws.

Practical implications

The paper advances the view that human‐resource specialists, through the decisions they make, can contribute to their organizations' competitiveness irrespective of the legislative framework in which they must operate.

Social implications

The paper argues that workers' protections in the workplace should not be used by legislators, pundits or employer interest groups as a reason for explaining economic woe or be portrayed as a burden that, if lessened, will lead to increased economic competitiveness. It is possible to have strong worker‐friendly labor laws and vibrant, competitive industry.


The paper provides an up‐to‐date assessment of current economic conditions in different countries and relates these to newly released World Bank data. Adds to the ongoing discourse about labor law and its relationship to economic prosperity.



Davis, P.J. (2011), "Economic competitiveness and employee protections – a dichotomy? The World Bank Rigidity of Employment index in focus", Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 19 No. 6, pp. 39-42.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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