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Sandra Eckert

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Sandra Eckert

This chapter revisits the state of the art in political economy research on the role of the company in Western business systems and varieties of advanced capitalism. Given its influence, the chapter discusses the contribution of the varieties of capitalism (VoC) framework at quite some length. It presents the key elements of the VoC framework, and lays out common features but also differences compared with other approaches to comparative capitalism, such as the literature on national business systems, governance approaches and contributions from critical political economy. Special attention is paid to the ways in which comparative capitalism scholars have explained the economic and financial crisis in the eurozone. The discussion of the VoC framework brings to the fore its limitations relating to the role of the company, institutional complementarities and institutional change. The post-VoC research program has addressed several of the framework’s weaknesses, notably by integrating the role of the state and politics. The chapter shows that comparative analysis conducted over the last two decades has come a long way to provide empirical evidence for typological distinctions, and to trace the pathways of institutional change in contemporary capitalism. It further highlights how alternative approaches contribute to the debate about capitalist diversity. The literature on governance and social systems of production draws our attention to diversity within capitalism at the sectoral, regional and local level. And contributions in critical political economy open up new avenues of thought transgressing the neo-institutionalist and post-Keynesian reasoning that dominate the post-VoC debate.