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  • Author: Fritz W. Scharpf
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: At the end of the postwar period, the politically shaped configurations of normatively integrated European political economies differed greatly among “social-market” and “liberal market economies.” Such differences persist even though the characteristic achievements of social market economies have since eroded under the pressures of global capitalism and of European integration. Focusing on European integration from a social-market perspective, there is no question that it has widened the range of individual options. But it has also reduced the capacity of democratic politics to deal with the challenges of global capitalism, and it has contributed to rising social inequality and the erosion of public services and transfers. This paper will first summarize those asymmetries of European integration which have done the most to constrain democratic choices and to shift the balance between capital, labor, and the state by establishing an institutional priority of negative over positive integration and of monetary integration over political and social integration. It will then explain why efforts to democratize European politics will not be able to overcome these institutional asymmetries and why politically feasible reforms will not be able to remove the institutional constraints. The changes that would be required to restore democratic capacities to shape the political economy could only have a chance if present veto positions were to be fundamentally shaken. On the speculative assumption that the aftermath of a deep crisis might indeed create the window of opportunity for a political re-foundation of European integration, the concluding section will outline institutional ground rules that would facilitate democratic political action at both the European and national levels.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Politics, Labor Issues, Democracy, Capitalism
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Fritz W. Scharpf
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper attempts a normative assessment of the input and output-oriented legitimacy of the present euro-rescuing regime on the basis of policy analyses examining the causes of present crises, the available policy options, and the impact of the policies actually chosen. Concluding that the regime lacks input-oriented legitimacy and that its claim to output-oriented legitimacy is ambivalent at best, the paper explores potential – majoritarian or unilateral – exits from the present institutional constellation that is characterized by the synthesis of a non-democratic expertocracy and an extremely asymmetric intergovernmental bargaining system.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Financial Crisis, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Daniel Kinderman
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Do employers in coordinated market economies (CME’s) actively defend the non-liberal, market-constraining institutions upon which their strategic coordination and competitive success depends? This paper revisits the debate over firms’ employer preferences with an in-depth examination of employers in Germany – a paradigmatic CME and crucial “test case” for Varieties of Capitalism. It is based on interviews with key officials and an in-depth examination of a large-scale campaign – the New Social Market Initiative or INMS – founded and funded by German metalworking employers to shape public opinion. The paper argues that German employers have a strong preference for liberalization: they have pushed hard for the liberalization of labor markets, the reduction of government expenditures, the expansion of market-oriented freedoms, and cuts to social protection, employment protection and benefit entitlements. I find no empirical support for the claim that the INSM is an attempt to appease discontented firms within employers’ associations. On the contrary: for many employers, the Agenda 2010 reforms did not go far enough. Following the discrediting of the Anglo-American model in the financial crisis, far-reaching concessions by employees, and the unexpected revitalization of the German economy, employers have moderated their demands – but liberalization remains their default preference. This paper also addresses the role of ideas and the conditions under which employer campaigns can influence policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Labor Issues, Capitalism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: W. Streeck, L. Elsässer
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Regional disparities within the European Union have always been perceived as an impediment to monetary integration. This is why discussions on a joint currency, from their very beginning, were linked to compensatory payments in the form of regional policy payments. Structural assistance to poor regions and member states increased sharply at the end of the 1980s. Today, however, fiscal support has to be shared with the new member states in the East. Moreover, due to the financial crisis, the cheap credit that poor EMU member countries enjoyed as a result of interest rate convergence is no longer available. We predict that in the future, some sort of financial aid will have to be provided by rich member countries to poor ones, if only to prevent a further increase in economic disparities and related political instability. We also expect long-lasting distributional conflict between payer and recipient countries far beyond current rescue packages, together with disagreement on the extent of aid required and the political control to be conceded by receiving countries to giving countries. We illustrate the dimension of the distributional conflict by comparing income gaps and relative population size between the center and the periphery of Europe on the one hand and on the other, between rich and poor regions in two European nation-states characterized by large regional disparities, Germany and Italy. While income gaps and population structures are similar in the two countries to those between Northern Europe and the Mediterranean periphery, regional redistribution is much more extensive in the two nation-states. We conclude that this presages a difficult future for the domestic politics of Euroland.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Financial Crisis, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Sabrina Zajak
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper contributes to the debate on the role of democratic participation in complex systems of governance. It takes a process-oriented constructivist approach asking how transnational activism over time contributes to the construction of access and voice from below and uses the Asia-Europe Meetings (ASEM) to analyze how interactions between civil society and global governance institutions shape concrete forms of participation. The paper shows that transnational activism triggers both discursive and institutional changes within the official ASEM process leading to an informal, fragmented, and fragile institutionalization of civil society participation. However, the paper reveals a division between civil society organizations with some, such as business representatives, having preferential access and voice in comparison to more contentious organizations. The paper explains this fragmented form of democratization as the result of three interrelated processes: the particular history and economic origins of the ASEM; international developments particularly in the ongoing economic crisis; and domestic developments within individual countries (in particular China) which have begun to favor controlled access for civil society participation.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Economics, History, Governance, Developments
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia
  • Author: Fritz W. Scharpf
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Judge-made law has played a crucial role in the process of European integration. In the vertical dimension, it has greatly reduced the range of autonomous policy choices in the member states, and it has helped to expand the reach of European competences. At the same time, however, “Integration through Law” does have a liberalizing and deregulatory impact on the socioeconomic regimes of EU member states. This effect is generally compatible with the status quo in liberal market economies, but it tends to undermine the institutions and policy legacies of Continental and Scandinavian social market economies. Given the high consensus requirements of European legislation, this structural asymmetry cannot be corrected through political action at the European level.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Geny Piotti
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper attempts to explain why internationalization processes to China are growing despite the significant difficulties that foreign direct investments into China encounter. The answer to this question can be found in the processes of decision-making on internationalization at the company level and how these affect management practices in Chinese subsidiaries. The argument I put forward in this paper is that for the small and medium-sized enterprises the study focuses on, the decisions concerning investment in China are mainly the product of structural and legitimation pressure. Structural pressure can encourage cognitive mechanisms and behavioral consequences similar to those occurring when individuals (and organizations) cope with threat. Legitimation pressure can foster wishful thinking, which pushes actors to believe that desired options are good despite evidence to the contrary. These pressures have an impact on how well companies are prepared when they internationalize and can particularly affect some crucial management practices, leading to inefficiencies and problems in subsidiaries.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Germany
  • Author: Irene Troy, Raymund Werle
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Modern societies regard knowledge as a production factor in its own right. The market is the prevailing governance mode of their economies, and it is supposed to be the most appropriate mode of trading and allocating knowledge assets, too. But socio-economic research has revealed that knowledge markets are far from functioning smoothly. Building on ongoing qualitative research into patent trading we suggest that the emergence of a well-functioning market for patented new technological knowledge is confronted with several obstacles, which can be characterized as different facets of uncertainty. They are included in the process of creation of innovative knowledge, in its transformation into a fictitious knowledge commodity (patent), in its uniqueness, in the strategy of transaction partners, in the estimation of the future market potential of final products (based on the patent), and generally in the problem of incomplete and asymmetric information. Also a commonly accepted method of determining a patent's value is missing. We analyze structural and organizational responses to the problem of uncertainty. Potential traders often rely on contractual options, especially licensing agreements, and complementary procedural principles facilitating the trade of patents.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Christoph Deutschmann
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The paper views the current financial crisis in light of long-term structural socioeconomic changes in advanced industrial societies. In Western Europe, the United States and Japan, the period of economic prosperity after the Second World War led to a remarkable accumulation of wealth among the middle class that had surprisingly little effect on the substantial fortunes of the wealthiest upper class. This affluence gave rise to pension and investment funds emerging as a new type of collective actor in global financial markets, while the economy was marked by increasing instability, declining growth rates and financial crises. The paper tries to clarify the interconnections between these phenomena using the framework of a multilevel analysis that culminates in a model I call the “collective Buddenbrooks effect” (“Buddenbrooks” being a family saga by Thomas Mann): Structural upward social mobility will lead to an increasing imbalance in capital markets, since the volume of financial assets looking for profitable investment will rise as the social reservoir of solvent debtors and promising investment opportunities decline. Advanced industrial economies are thus characterized by a bias towards capital export and excessive financial liquidity, with the well-known consequences of low economic growth rates and the danger of speculative bubbles on global capital markets. The middle class that originally benefitted from postwar prosperity is negatively affected, too. I argue that the current crisis cannot be understood sufficiently without taking this structural socioeconomic background into account.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Europe
  • Author: Marta Kahancová
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Increased international competition poses challenges to companies' organizational practices, including human resource management. For multinational companies operating simultaneously in diverse local conditions this challenge implies a decision between either opting for universal best practices or adapting their employment strategy to differing local standards in host countries. What influences whether work practices are similar or differ when deployed in differing conditions? Why are some companies committed to their workers' welfare while others are not? This paper attempts to answer these questions by studying work practices, namely work systems and fringe benefits, in a Dutch multinational company (MNC) and its manufacturing subsidiaries in Western and Eastern Europe. Evidence suggests that the observed patterns are best explained by the interplay of three factors. Rational economic interest, company values, and local institutions yield subsidiary work practices that are embedded in, but not adapted to, local standards. The MNC's value system accounts for the fact that generous benefits are offered without a direct relation to the company's profit maximization and without external societal and institutional pressures to provide such benefits.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Cornelia Woll
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: What role do firms play in the making of EU trade policy? This article surveys the policy domain and lays out the instruments firms can employ to influence decisions on trade. It underlines that European trade policy is characterized by a high degree of institutional complexity, which firms have to manage in order to be successful. In particular, the European Commission works intensively to solicit business input in order to gain bargaining leverage vis-á-vis third countries and the EU member states. This reverse lobbying creates a two-channel logic of trade policy lobbying in the EU. Corporate actors have a very good chance of working closely with the European Commission if they can propose pan-European trade policy solutions. This can be either trade liberalization or EU-wide regulatory restrictions on trade. Demands for traditional protectionist measures, especially those that reveal national interest divergences, are difficult to defend at the supranational level. Protectionist lobbying therefore goes through the national route, with corporate actors working to block liberalization by affecting the consensus in the Council of Ministers. The chapter illustrates this two-channel logic by studying business—government interactions in agricultural trade, textiles and clothing, financial services, and telecommunication services.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Aurora Trif
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: There are several studies on recent developments in collective bargaining in Eastern Europe, but there is still a debate about the extent to which collective bargaining practices resemble those in continental Western Europe. This paper aims to contribute to this debate, by examining primary data on collective bargaining practices in Romania using an actor-centred institutionalist approach. It focuses on collective bargaining in four large chemical companies. Comparisons are made to other countries in order to highlight the developments in Romanian cases. Unexpectedly, the study's findings point to an increase in state intervention in establishing the terms and conditions of employment after 1989, due to the state’s new roles during the transformation process that affected job security. The study suggests a considerable increase in the influence of top managers in determining pay and working conditions, while trade unions retained the considerable influence over social benefits in large companies. The findings show continuance of certain pre-1989 practices, such as a persistence of high state intervention and a limited independence of the trade unions from the management. This paper contributes to a deeper understanding of institutional changes in the context of a shift from a centrally planned economy to a market-based economy.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Romania
  • Author: Fritz W. Scharpf
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The unique institutions that make up Germany's "unitary federal state," long considered part of the country's post-war success story, are now generally perceived as a "joint-decision trap" impeding effective policy responses to new economic and demographic challenges at both levels of government. Nevertheless, a high-powered bicameral Commission set up in the fall of 2003 failed to reach agreement on constitutional reforms. The paper analyzes the misguided procedural and substantive choices that led to this failure, and it discusses the possibility of asymmetric constitutional solutions that might enhance the capacity for autonomous action at both levels.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Aurora Trif, Karl Koch
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The shift from centrally planned economies to market-oriented economic models presented trade unions in Eastern European countries with crucial choices in relation to their roles as industrial relations actors. This paper investigates whether (and why) unions have chosen adversarial and/or co-operative relationships with the employers, based on a strategic choice conceptual framework. It focuses on trade union relations with employers at national, sectoral and company levels in Romania. It is argued that adversarial and co-operative relations between unions and employers developed simultaneously after 1989, but co-operation was the prevalent approach. Evidence suggests that ideological legacies, former institutions and the initial decision to participate in the macroeconomic transformation played a key role in shaping unions' choices towards co-operation with employers. Although this paper confirms the widespread view that labour is rather weak in Eastern Europe, it indicates that unions can be proactive and shape their own future if they have the capacity to mobilise their members and union leaders have the skills and willingness to use both conflict and co-operation in their relationships with employers. The comparison of evidence from Romania with other Eastern European countries reflects on the stage of Romanian transformation and also illustrates a wider possible applicability of the theoretical framework employed for the study.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Romania
  • Author: Wolfgang Streeck, Christine Trampusch
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The key to economic reform in Germany is a significant reduction in the high costs of labour.The main factor driving up German labour costs is the funding of the extensive German welfare state through social insurance contributions that in effect operate like payroll taxes on employment. The paper discusses the political causes of the rise in non-wage labour costs since the 1970s. It then proceeds to show how a variety of opportunities for political blockade in the German political economy dim the prospect for effective reform in the foreseeable future.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Armin Schäfer
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The Open Method of Coordination (OMC) has received much attention in the recent EU-literature. The predominant view claims that the OMC is not only a new but also an effective policy-making instrument. This paper raises doubts about both claims by offering a comparison of soft law policy coordination in three international organizations. More specifically, this paper compares the European Employment Strategy – which was the first use of the OMC – to the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines of the EU, the OECD Economic Surveys, and the IMF Article IV Consultations. Based on expert interviews, it seeks to demonstrate that these procedures are forms of multilateral surveillance that do not differ in kind. Such a comparative analysis of the OMC refutes claims to its novelty. Having compared the four procedures, a more general model of multilateral surveillance consisting of six elements is generated that facilitates further comparisons. This paper concludes that governments select voluntarist procedures mainly to secure their own competencies rather than to realize common goals. Effective problem-solving is therefore not necessarily the dominant objective of soft law.
  • Topic: Economics, International Law, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Martin Höpner, Lothar Krempel
  • Publication Date: 09-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: For over 100 years, the German company network was a major feature of organized corporate governance in Germany. This paper uses network visualization techniques and qualitative-historical analysis to discuss the structure, origins and development of this network and to analyze the reasons for its recent erosion. Network visualization makes it possible to identify crucial entanglement patterns that can be traced back historically. In three phases of network formation – the 1880s, 1920s and the 1950s –, capital entanglement resulted from the interplay of company behavior and government policy. In its heyday, the company network was de facto encompassing and provided its core participants, especially the banks, with a national, macroeconomic perspective. In the 1970s, a process of increased competition among financial companies set in. In the 1980s and 1990s, declining returns from blockholding and increased opportunity costs made network dissolution a thinkable option for companies. Because of the strategic reorientation of the largest banks toward investment banking, ties between banks and industry underwent functional changes. Since the year 2000, the German government's tax policy has sped up network erosion. Vanishing capital ties imply a declining degree of strategic coordination among large German companies.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Armin Schäfer
  • Publication Date: 07-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper looks at the historical developments that led to the Schuman Plan in 1950, which today is seen as a starting signal for the European integration process. It argues that this announcement by the French foreign minister constituted a genuine change of strategy that can only be understood in the light of the preceding historical chain of events. The first steps of European integration were part of a search for suitable institutions capable of dealing with Europe's economic and political problems, which also involved the Bretton Woods institutions, Marshall Aid and the OEEC, and, finally, the ECSC. These organizations' respective fate depended on the strategies of key states, which in turn were driven by domestic concerns. Aligning their interests took several steps and was only completed when all three organizations existed in parallel. Throughout this process, all states had to abandon their preferred course of action and learn to settle for second best.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Pieter Bouwen
  • Publication Date: 04-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The aim of this paper is to empirically test a theory of access that investigates the logic behind the apparent ad hoc lobbying behavior of business interests in the EU multi-level system. First, I propose the theoretical framework that attempts to explain the access of different organizational forms of business interest representation (companies, associations and consultants) to the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. The degree of access to these institutions is explained in terms of a theory of supply and demand of access goods. Access goods concern information that is crucial in the EU policy-making process. In return for access to an EU institution, business interests have to provide the access good(s) demanded by that institution. I then derive a number of specific hypotheses about the access of the aforementioned organizational forms. These hypotheses are analyzed in an extensive empirical study of the EU financial services sector. On the basis of 126 exploratory and semi-structured interviews the hypotheses are checked across the three EU institutions.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Welfare, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jürgen Feick
  • Publication Date: 11-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The EC harmonized market entry regulation for pharmaceuticals from the early sixties on, but it achieved neither its goal of uniform national regulatory decisions nor that of automatic mutual recognition. Subsequent attempts to Europeanize the procedures themselves resulted in two alternatives in 1995: a Centralized Procedure for innovative pharmaceutical products implemented at the EU level, and a Decentralized Procedure which tries to assure mutual recognition. First, the paper analyzes the distinctive modes of Europeanization employed in these regulatory alternatives, examining both their impact on the effectiveness of European governing and the balance they strike between European interventionism, national participation and national autonomy. Second, it tries to assess whether Europeanization furthers the goals of pharmaceutical market entry policy as defined in European regulations – public health protection, creation of a single market and the reduction of regulatory costs to industry. There is little evidence that the public's health is less well protected when regulation is Europeanized. Only the Centralized Procedure contributes significantly to the goal of establishing a single market. Regulatory costs in terms of approval time did go down especially for pharmaceutical firms using the Centralized Procedure, mainly because of efficiency-enhancing legal provisions and institutionally induced regulatory competition between national authorities.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Europe