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The Changing Political Economies of Small West European Countries

The Changing Political Economies of Small West European Countries

Uwe Becker (ed.)
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    The Changing Political Economies of Small West European Countries
    Book Description:

    The literature on changing varieties of capitalism concentrates on the big economies, particularly the US, Japan and Germany. This important volume sheds light on the group of smaller European countries that share a high degree of corporatism - Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Most of them have recently been praised as alter native models to the route exemplified by the US. The authors investigate the trajectories of these countries welfare systems, corporate governance, labour markets and industrial relations from about 1990 until the economic crisis in 2008. The volume also tracks their position in the processes of European integration and asks whether their particular brands of capitalism might be a viable candidate for the European socio-economic model.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1454-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-8)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgements
    (pp. 9-10)
    Uwe Becker
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 11-44)
    Uwe Becker

    Changing capitalism is a topic that has been discussed, with increasing intensity, in the context of the debate following the publication of Peter Hall’s and David Soskice’sVarieties of Capitalism(2001). Empirically, this discussion and related comparative research have concentrated on the bigger political economies of the United States, Japan and Germany, with some attention for Britain, France and Italy. Smaller countries have largely been ignored. This volume would like to shed some light on a group of smaller European countries, all of which reveal a high degree (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland) or even a very high degree (Austria, the...

  5. 2 The Variety of Capitalism in Sweden and Finland: Continuity Through Change
    (pp. 45-72)
    Karl-Oskar Lindgren

    In recent years, partly spurred by the failure of the globalisation thesis predicting rapid institutional and political convergence across countries (e.g. Lash & Urry 1987), we have witnessed an increased interest among comparative political economists in the distinctiveness and performance of various national economic systems.¹ The extensive literature on the “varieties of capitalism” that has evolved over the last decade provides a particularly prominent example of this current trend (Hall & Soskice 2001, Hancké et al. 2008).

    Traditionally, the Varieties of Capitalism approach (VoC) holds that developed industrialised economies cluster into two distinct groups labelled Coordinated Market Economies and Liberal Market Economies...

  6. 3 Change and Continuity in Danish and Norwegian Capitalism: Corporatism and Beyond
    (pp. 73-98)
    Mikkel Mailand

    The literature onvarieties of capitalism(VoC) (e.g. Hall & Soskice 2001; Rueda & Pontusson 2000; Hall & Gingerich 2004) has illuminated contemporary relations between state and social partners as well as between capital and labour in advanced economies. As stated in other chapters in this volume, the literature on VoC has largely focused on the larger industrial countries and ignored the small EU member states. This is also the case with the small Scandinavian countries. There are only a few exceptions (e.g. Campbell et al. 2006) within the VoC literature.

    Relations between state, capital and labour are often presented in earlier studies...

  7. 4 Coming Together But Staying Apart: Continuity and Change in the Austrian and Swiss Varieties of Capitalism
    (pp. 99-124)
    Alexandre Afonso and André Mach

    Austria and Switzerland are two small open European economies that share many similarities but also significant differences in their structures of economic governance. Both can be considered as strongly corporatist, since major aspects of their economic regulation rely upon a system of organised cooperation between labour and capital, but their respective positions on the “liberal” and “statist” axis (see Becker, this volume) vary to an important extent.

    On the one hand, Austria and Switzerland have most commonly been identified as political economies where cooperation between economic actors has prevailed over arms-length competition. According to Katzenstein (1984; 1985), the dual strategy...

  8. 5 Liberal Convergence, Growing Outcome Divergence? Institutional Continuity and Changing Trajectories in the ‘Low Countries’
    (pp. 125-148)
    Hester Houwing and Kurt Vandaele

    Belgium and the Netherlands, with respectively 10 and 16 million inhabitants, have several similarities in the cultural, political and economic spheres. Belgian and Dutch societies have often been described as ‘consociational democracies’ because of the existence of competing ‘pillars’ (groups) organised along ideological, notably religious, lines but with overarching institutions for facilitating negotiation and compromise by elites. Since the 1960s the consociational formula has been eroded by the continuing process of ‘depillarisation’, which in itself was caused by changing social values such as rising secularism. Nevertheless, the present opportunity structure for influence is still based on a proportional electoral system...

  9. 6 Small Countries, Big Countries under Conditions of Europeanisation and Globalisation
    (pp. 149-172)
    Vivien A. Schmidt

    Small countries, we know, are small. Big countries are big. The European Union has had a significant impact on both, as has globalisation. The question is: does size make any difference as to how these countries adjusted their political economies and policies in response to European integration as well as globalisation?

    In recent years, the smaller countries of Western Europe – consisting of all Nordic EU member states plus non-member Norway, the Continental countries of Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, plus non-member Switzerland – appear to have adjusted their political economies more quickly and more effectively to the new globalised...

  10. 7 The Small Corporatist Political Economies as European Socio-Economic Model?
    (pp. 173-198)
    Uwe Becker and Kees van Kersbergen

    The political economies of the small, largely corporatist countries analysed in the contributions to this volume have not been immune to the pressures to liberalise that have sprung up notably since the early 1990s. And indeed, liberalisation has taken place to differing degrees. The contributions also show, however, that this process has remained limited. The countries still reveal a high degree of corporatism, and their welfare systems are still considerably more generous than those in countries such as the US in particular, which approximates the liberal type of capitalism. Their labour markets as well as product and company markets are...

  11. About the Authors
    (pp. 199-202)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 203-232)
  13. Index
    (pp. 233-238)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 239-240)