Similar structures, different outcomes: corporatism's resilience and transformation (1974–2005)

Lucio Baccaro
2014 Review of Keynesian Economics  
for helpful comments. Word Count (text, notes, and references): 14,984 abstract The received wisdom about corporatism as a political economic model is that it was once an important institutional alternative to liberal capitalism, but that it essentially died due to the combined effects of globalization, European integration, technological change, and a generalized employer offensive. This paper challenges this received wisdom in three ways. First, based on a new measure of the phenomenon, it
more » ... ues that corporatism as a particular policy-making structure did not die but experienced a surprising renaissance in the 1990s and 2000s. Second, although corporatism qua institutional structure survived, its political-economic outcomes became pointedly less egalitarian than those of golden age corporatism. The latter was a cornerstone of 'negotiated capitalism'; the former became instead a policy process by which governments that for various reasons were unable or unwilling to engage in unilateral action (e.g. parliamentary weakness or fear of electoral retribution), managed to implement policy reforms whose fundamental orientation was neoliberal. Third, the new corporatist institutions became more participatory and democratic than those of the old days. Because unions were no longer rewarded for bargaining moderation through more generous social protection programs or other side payments, they strengthened procedural legitimacy as a way to promote rank-and-file compliance. The evidence buttressing these claims comes from quantitative data for 16 OECD countries between 1974 and 2005 and case study evidence of Ireland and Italy. Similar Structures, Different Outcomes: Corporatism's Surprising Resilience and Transformation Twenty years ago corporatism was the subject of much discussion in comparative political economy and macrosociology. With its ability to combine good economic performance with a relatively egalitarian wage and income distribution, a large and activist public sector, and generous social protection policies, it was regarded as a viable institutional alternative to the model of liberal capitalism prevailing in the USA and other English-speaking countries, and perhaps even as a model towards which all countries ought to be tending (see in a very long list Goldthorpe
doi:10.4337/roke.2014.02.05 fatcat:a6iv5zetazbrxmp4ygm6dfnppe