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From the Manpower Revolution to the Activation Paradigm

From the Manpower Revolution to the Activation Paradigm: Explaining Institutional Continuity and Change in an Integrating Europe

J. Timo Weishaupt
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 396
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  • Book Info
    From the Manpower Revolution to the Activation Paradigm
    Book Description:

    This book examines the origins and evolution of labor market policy in Western Europe, while paying close attention to the OECD and the European Union as proliferators of new ideas. Three phases are identified: (a) a manpower revolution phase during the 1960s and 1970s, when most European governments emulated Swedish manpower policies and introduced/modernized their public employment services; (b) a phase of international disagreement about the root causes of, and remedies for, unemployment, triggering a diversity of policy responses during the late 1970s and 1980s; and (c) the emergence of an activation paradigm since the late 1990s, causing a process of institutional hybridization. The book's main contention is that the evolution of labor market policy is not only determined by historical trajectories or coalitional struggles, but also by policy makers' changing normative and cognitive beliefs. The cases studied include Austria, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1305-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-8)
  3. List of Boxes, Figures and Tables
    (pp. 9-12)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. 13-18)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 19-20)
  6. I Introduction
    (pp. 21-34)

    With the burst of the American housing bubble in late 2007 and the subsequent financial crisis that reached its climax with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, skyrocketing unemployment and full-blown economic recessions became a global phenomenon in 2009. While the economic, political and social repercussions were felt worldwide, European policymakers were in particular reminded of both the vulnerability of their deeply institutionalised social welfare systems and – at the same time – the importance of adequate institutions, being able to cope with rising unemployment and growing inequality. This situation, however, is nothing new. Since the age of...

  7. II Theoretical Approach
    (pp. 35-70)

    Can modern European welfare states withstand contemporary pressures associated with economic globalisation, capital mobility, persistent, often long-term un- and underemployment, the shift from manufacturing to service economies, ageing societies, and changing gender roles and family structures, or will they converge on a minimalist, individualistic, US-style model? This substantive, empirical and theoretical puzzle is at the very heart of most welfare state scholars’ research. Facing the most severe financial and economic crisis in 60 years, many researchers have also begun asking how well European welfare states are prepared to cope with rising levels of unemployment, whether current institutional arrangements are sustainable,...


    • III Origin of European Labour Market Policy Regimes and the Manpower Revolution
      (pp. 73-104)

      Even though most of the legal framework for active labour market policy was not formally introduced until the early 1950s, it is important to provide information about the path-creating efforts launched by European governments during the pre-WWII era. Accordingly, chapter III first offers a brief overview of emergence of the very concept of unemployment and the origins of labour market policy regimes. Subsequently, I elaborate on the genesis of the Swedish concept of ALMPs, initially known as active manpower policies, followed by a succinct introduction to the OECD, which successfully diffused this concept. This chapter then precedes with a synopsis...

    • IV Labour Market Policy Regimes in Crisis: Divergence into Three Distinct Clusters
      (pp. 105-148)

      After a period of “institution-building” that included the creation and/or modernisation of public employment services, the introduction and expansion of active manpower policies, and the general enthusiasm for economic planning, foresight, and management during the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, many European policymakers were rudely awakened by the first oil crisis of 1973. As a consequence of quadrupling oil prices and skyrocketing commodity prices, unemployment soared in most OECD countries. Two decades of (near) full employment came to an end and a “cosy world” had abruptly disappeared (British Prime Minister James Callaghan, cited in Hall 1986). Table 5 below shows...


    • V The OECD’s Repeated Reassessments and the EU as a Proliferator of New Ideas
      (pp. 151-192)

      Chapter III examined the emergence of active manpower policy – inspired by the Swedish Model and diffused by the OECD – across most of the industrialised world. Chapter IV outlined the expansion, recalibration, and – in most cases – gradual expansion in the use of active manpower policy in response to the employment challenges that arose after the two oil crises in the 1970s. In this chapter, I will trace how the OECD has reacted to – and repeatedly adjusted its position on – the causes of, and remedies for, unemployment since the late 1980s. I will juxtapose the OECD’s...

    • VI The Emergence of the Activation Paradigm: Analysing Institutional Hybridisation
      (pp. 193-252)

      The previous three empirical chapters have illustrated three phases of cognitive and normative shifts, leading to new policy agendas and institutional changes. The first, institutional consolidation phase, lasting from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, was characterised by anideational convergenceon the conceptual and normative merits of the Swedish concept of active labour market policies, which were seen as an adequate instrument to simultaneously improve the adaptability of national economies and the mobility of individual workers. These ideas were spearheaded by the OECD, especially Director of Manpower and Social Affairs Gösta Rehn, and resulted in a “manpower revolution”, associated...

    • VII Explaining Transformative Change in Two Crucial Cases
      (pp. 253-294)

      While chapter VI has offered an empirical overview of the institutional changes that have taken place in Western Europe over roughly the past decade, this chapter will shed light on the political processes underlying these institutional changes. The analytical focus thus shifts from policy to politics and from institutions to actors. Since an in-depth analysis of six country cases goes beyond the scope of this book, I will focus on two of the six cases. Germany and Ireland have been selected as “crucial” cases, or cases “particularly informative for theory development” (George and Bennett 2005, 253). Germany is the archetypical...

    • VIII Conclusion
      (pp. 295-314)

      In concluding this book, I would like to revisit the three central questions posed in the introduction, including:

      (1) Do national labour market policy reform efforts exhibit covariation across Western Europe, and if so, how and why?

      (2) What impact, if any, have the recommendations of international organisations such as the OECD and the EU had on national reform agendas?

      (3) Have recent reform activities, in the context of the OECD Jobs Study and the EES, fundamentally transformed the historic composition of national labour market policy regimes, and if so, to what effect?

      Given the rapid developments associated with the...

  10. List of Interviews and Personal Conversations
    (pp. 315-320)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 321-340)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 341-386)
  13. Index
    (pp. 387-394)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 395-397)