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Vera Šćepanović and Dorothee Bohle

This chapter explores the consequences of dependence on transnational capital for the institutional structures of four East Central European countries: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland. These countries have been very successful in attracting foreign capital, and have geared their institutional systems to attract and embed foreign corporations. The chapter argues that a combination of state efforts, activities of foreign corporations themselves and the European Union has led to the emergence of a transnationalized institutional sphere that supports the operations of outside firms. These transnational institutional solutions have emerged and exist independently of institutions geared towards the domestic sector, creating a segmented institutional environment. This segmentation has allowed only some fractions of domestic capital to survive in the shadow of the dominant model of dependent capitalism. However, with the recent ideological shift in the region, the domestic institutional segments may also become springboards for the politicians or domestic businessmen to attempt the construction of more ‘national’ forms of capitalism.

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Dorothee Bohle and Béla Greskovits

The chapter presents the building blocks of a Polanyi-inspired analytical framework of the varied paths of post-socialist capitalism in good times and bad. Instead of looking for total similarities, it considers Polanyi’s work as a rich source of reference points, analogies and contrasts to better understand the birth, stabilization, and recent turbulences of nascent market societies. The trajectories of East Central European capitalism are followed through three phases: the early-to-mid-1990s, marked by what the authors term a “neoliberal moment” and the transformational recession; the new social orders’ “democratic moment” and brief golden age roughly from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s; and the return of hard times after 2008 with the global financial crisis and Great Recession, heralding what seems to be a “nationalist moment”.