Research Handbook of Comparative Employment Relations
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Research Handbook of Comparative Employment Relations

Edited by Michael Barry and Adrian Wilkinson

The Research Handbook of Comparative Employment Relations is an essential resource for those seeking to understand contemporary developments in the world of work, and the way in which employment relations systems are evolving around the world.
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Chapter 16: Corporatism Meets Neoliberalism: The Irish and Italian Cases in Comparative Perspective

Lucio Baccaro


Lucio Baccaro INTRODUCTION Until a few years ago the consensus among comparative political economists and industrial relations scholars was that corporatism was, if not dead, at least seriously ill, and that it would not be able to survive the blows of (depending on the observer’s angle) globalization, European integration, technological change and a generalized employer offensive (Schmitter, 1989; Streeck and Schmitter, 1991; Gobeyn, 1993; Streeck, 1993; Thelen, 1994; Locke, 1995; Iversen, 1999; Iversen et al., 2000; Hall and Soskice, 2001a). This chapter begins by arguing, based on a new measure of corporatist policy-making, that the analyses predicting a demise of corporatist bargaining are unduly extrapolated from a limited number of highly symbolic events like the demise of centralized bargaining in Sweden (Swenson, 1991; Iversen, 1996; Swenson and Pontusson, 2000). In fact there is no sign of systematic decline in corporatism as institutional structure, as also witnessed by the recent literature on the emergence of social pacts in numerous countries and regions (Regini, 1997; Wallerstein et al., 1997; Perez, 2000; Compston, 2002; Culpepper, 2002, 2008; Molina and Rhodes, 2002; Baccaro, 2003; Traxler, 2004; Hassel, 2006; Hamann and Kelly, 2007; Baccaro and Simoni, 2008; Hassel, 2009; Avdagic, 2010). However, the political-economic function of the new corporatism is pointedly different from that of golden age corporatism. The latter was an alternative to liberal capitalism, namely to a political-economic regime in which the market is the main mechanism of economic coordination, and conscious, political intervention in the economy is kept to a minimum. It...

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