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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