Thelens typiska utgångspunkt för diskussionen om institutionell förändring är Varieties of Capitalism-skolan (VoC), som hon dock är sunt skeptisk till. En viktig poäng är att ett maktteoretiskt perspektiv förstår förändring bättre än vad VoC gör.
“The varieties of capitalism framework, for example, draws insight from a Williamsonian perspective that emphasizes the co-ordinating functions institutions perform. Historical institutionalists, by contrast, tend to embrace a slightly different, more political, view, seeing institutions as the legacy of concrete historical processes and battles. These two perspectives are by no means necessarily at odds with one another, and in many ways they usefully shed light on different aspects of institutions. However, approaches that put the power-distributional features of institutions (as opposed to their co-ordinating functions) at the centre of the analysis may enjoy some advantages when it comes to thinking about institutional change.
If one conceives of institutions as sets of rules that are enforced or complied with by actors and organizations of various sorts, this brings into strong relief the fact that rules are never ‘simply’ applied, they are always interpreted, enforced and enacted, and, of course, by actors who have divergent and conflicting interests (Streeck and Thelen 2005a). This feature of institutions is important to bear in mind because analytically it opens up a way of analysing something to which Paul Pierson has drawn attention, namely the ‘gaps’ (as he puts it) that exist from the start, or that emerge over time, between the design of an institution and its actual on-the-ground implementation and effects (Pierson 2004: ch. 4). Where do these gaps come from?” (490f)
VoC har förnekat att globalisering och avindustrialisering ska leda till konvergens i socioekonomiska modeller (472, 478) –- detta har också tröstat vissa som gillar CMEs. Motsatsen till VoC:s persistens- eller divergensargument är förstås ett konvergensargument:
“Other analyses point in a less sanguine direction, and in general, debates on the resilience of egalitarian capitalism tend to revolve around competing interpretations of how robust or fragile are the institutions that have traditionally defined these co-ordinated systems (see, e.g. the exchange on wage bargaining institutions in Germany in this journal: Hassel 1999, 2002, and Klikauer 2002).”Thelen försvarar VoC; menar att perspektivet inte är statiskt som kritikerna säger
”VofC scholars point especially to employers’ continued support for these institutions in explaining institutional stability. A previous literature (on democratic corporatism) saw many of the institutions of co-ordination (e.g. centralized wage bargaining) as a product of labour strength. As such, these institutions were seen as vulnerable to employer rollback in a context — such as that prevailing in many of the advanced democracies since the 1970s — of high unemployment and declining union membership. By contrast, VofC scholars argue that within the CMEs employers have organized their production strategies around the existence of these arrangements, and therefore will not necessarily abandon these institutions in a period of market turbulence. This line of reasoning, well documented in many cases, takes us well beyond previous vague arguments about institutional ‘stickiness’ or ‘inertia’ as explanations of institutional stability.” (473f)Men det finns ändå stora skillnader mellan VoC:s relativt statiska perspektiv och ett alternativt, mer dynamiskt konvergensperspektiv. Inom VoC så menar man -- rätt absurt, kan jag tycka -- att det finns två olika typer av ekonomier i de rika länderna, liberala marknadsekonomier (LMEs) och koordinerade dito (CMEs), och att de har olika logiker som upprätthåller sig själva:
”As noted above, these two models constitute quite distinct equilibria, each having strong self-enforcing characteristics. Specifically for the CMEs, the argument is that employers will not abandon or dismantle institutions such as co-ordinated wage bargaining or skill formation because they have organized their production strategies around these institutions and thus have come to rely on them for their success in the market (Thelen 2000). Clearly, scholars in this camp acknowledge some of the changes that have occurred but they do not see these changes as pulling CMEs inexorably in the direction of LMEs, a conclusion that many studies appear to support (Deeg and Lütz 2000; Goyer 2007; Hall 2007; Kenworthy 2001). VofC scholars thus tend to see the changes that are occurring as essentially adaptive rather than transformative — not undermining existing arrangements and perhaps even serving to shore them up (Hall 2007; Hall and Gingerich 2004).” (478)Den nya konvergensteorin, företrädd inte minst av Chris Howell i USA och Wolfgang Streeck i Europa, ser något helt annat:
“On the other hand, recent years have seen the resurgence of a convergence thesis — albeit one that is considerably more sophisticated than earlier versions. Authors in this camp perceive in contemporary developments a genuine breakdown, or decay through ‘self-exhaustion’, of the arrangements that have distinguished the co-ordinated political economies in the past (Glyn 2006; Howell 2003; Streeck 2009; Streeck and Hassel 2004). They are likely to code many of the very same changes that VofC scholars see as adaptive as instead transformative, and involving a relatively straightforward trend toward liberalization. Recent developments have therefore led some to wonder if there is just one (liberal) variety of capitalism, after all (Howell 2003; see also Goodin 2003).” (478)De nya konvergensteoretikerna tenderar att övertolka steg mot liberalisering av CMEs, och en konvergens mot en enda typ av ekonomi, LMEn. Thelens ärende i denna artikel kan sägas vara att erbjuda en dynamisk teori -- till skillnad från ändå statiska VoC -- som ändå inte hamnar i konvergensteori.
Inom den institutionalistiska forskningen har idéer om "punctuated equilibria" och "discontinuity" varit mycket inflytelserika, man har hållit sig med en dualism där institutioner ses som stabila på mellanlång sikt där inte mycket händer, och så plötsligt inträffar vändpunkter (t ex 1930-talet, 1970-talet) där allt händer på en gång, och institutionerna byts ut. Katznelson (2003) argumenterar att ”institutions are mostly constraining in these long trajectory periods, and posits that critical juncture moments open up more space for agency”. Thelen vill komma bort från denna dualism och betonar vikten av kontinuerliga, gradvisa institutionella omvandlingar. I tabell 1 nedan klassificeras institutionella förändringsprocesser och resultat av dessa.
VoC jobbar mycket med övre vänstra rutan i tabellen. Överpredicerar stabilitet (476). Punctuated equilibrium-forskningen mycket med nedre högre rutan. Utifrån detta säger Thelen att hennes nyare arbete handlar mycket om att utarbeta redskap för att analysera den övre högra rutan. Detta arbete utvecklats på två fronter. 1) en teori om politiska koalitioner, tillsammans med bl a Palier och Kume 2) mer teoretiskt arbete, tillsammans med Streeck och Mahoney. Thelen tar Tysklands yrkesutbildningssystem som exempel. Skapades 1897 av en auktoritär regering som inte involverade arbetsgivarna och absolut inte facken. Systemet omvandlades sedan över tid. ”The most striking aspect of this whole process, however, is that the most important revisions to this system took place outside of the historic break points. They did not take place through massive institutional re-engineering, but rather through incremental changes that over time cumulated into a very significant institutional transformation.” (477)
Figur 1 nedan ger en mer nyanserad bild av skillnader mellan de rika ländernas samhällsekonomier än vad VoC gör; till VoC:s enda dimension läggs en med solidarism/collectivism kontra segmentalism/dualism. Thelen tar Japans yrkesutbildningssystem och landets lönesättning som exempel på koordinering utan solidaritet: enligt Kenworthys index är lönebildningen centraliserad (5) men det leder inte som ex Sveriges leder till utjämning av löneskillnader (480). Utifrån detta tvådimensionella schema så argumenterar Thelen och Kume (2006) att Tysklands förändring inte är liberalisering, utan ökad segmentering och dualisering
Jag gillar verkligen att Thelen uttalat bygger sin teori om instituionell omvandling på en teoretisering av socioekonomiska och politiska koalitioner:
”Whether or not formal institutions for co-ordination break down, a narrowing of their coalitional base may have very important implications for outcomes of interest, most obviously for labour strength and distributional outcomes. How such narrowing might occur is not so much a question of institutions as it is of political dynamics and especially of the political-coalitional foundations on which institutions rest. High levels of solidarism can give way to greater segmentalism gradually, for example, as employment shifts from manufacturing to services. Thus, if — as in some realms in Germany — solidaristic institutions and practices that were developed for industry in the 1950s and 1960s fail to take hold in services in the 1990s and 2000s, the coalitional base on which these institutions rest will narrow perforce and almost imperceptibly. The important conceptual point, however, is that such developments do not ‘register’ as change on the varieties of capitalism dimension (the x-axis), since they do not represent a breakdown of co-ordination so much as they do a reconfiguration of co-ordination on less solidaristic terms (as indicated by the arrow in Figure 1) (see, especially, Höpner 2007: 16–17; also Thelen and Kume 2006). This explains why there seems sometimes to be a ‘dialogue of the deaf’ between VofC and convergence theories even if the proponents of each are looking at the very same institutions.” (480f)
Thelen tar i artikeln upp tre områden i Tysklands politiska ekonomi som exempel på en sådan dualisering. Det första är lönebildningen.
“In the 1990s a significant literature predicted the breakdown of centralized bargaining through competitive deregulation (Flecker and Schulten 1999; Kapstein 1996; Katz and Darbishire 1999; Mahnkopf and Altvater 1995; Martin and Ross 1999). The core logic behind these predictions ran roughly as follows. Because employers had originally agreed to centralize bargaining to secure wage moderation in the inflationary context of the 1970s, the shift towards persistently high unemployment in the 1980s removed the rationale for their continued participation. Since they could now count on the discipline of the market to control wages, employers were expected to launch a neo-liberal attack against the ‘rigidities’ of centralized bargaining (Siebert 1997).Men:
As we now know, however, centralized bargaining arrangements did not collapse as predicted (Wallerstein and Golden 2000; Wallerstein et al. 1997). In the case of Germany, nothing much has changed in terms of the formal structure of negotiations, which are still conducted at the multi-industrial level and by unions that in the meantime—through mergers—have actually become more encompassing than they were before. The level of formal stability we observe in Germany is striking when one considers the inflammatory rhetoric levelled against centralized bargaining in recent years by some quite powerful actors, notably Hans-Olaf Henkel, the former head of the German Industry Association (BDI). Formal stability in Germany also stands out against the backdrop of other cases such as Britain and Denmark which did in fact witness real formal decentralization in the 1980s and 1990s (Wallerstein and Golden 2000).”
“However, as Jacob Hacker has put it in a very different context, the formal stability of this system only really captures half the truth (Hacker 2005). The fact is that there have indeed been some rather consequential changes in bargaining, even if these changes have not taken the form of a formal decentralization, let alone a complete breakdown of traditional institutions. The most important of these trends in Germany — much commented upon in the literature — has been a noticeable shrinkage in the coverage of collective bargaining (e.g. Hassel 1999). So while it is certainly noteworthy that there has been no free fall into deregulation, it is also true that significantly fewer workers are now covered by the deals that get negotiated within the context of these still rather centralized negotiations.” (482)Alltså:
“what we see is something that John Goldthorpe wrote about 25 years ago, namely a trend toward ‘dualism’ (or what I have been calling segmentalism) that involves growing divide between a system that still covers (and covers well) a significant proportion of ‘core’ workers, but with larger numbers of workers outside that core (Goldthorpe 1984). If one focuses excessively on the formal structure of bargaining, one risks missing very significant signs of drift in the system of collective bargaining, as it covers a shrinking core of workers (on ‘drift’, see especially Hacker 2005; also Mahoney and Thelen 2010b; Streeck and Thelen 2005b).” (482)Det andra exemplet är det tyska yrkesutbildningssystemet, som är mycket berömt. Till skillnad från kollektivavtalssystemet är yrkesutbildningssystemet mycket populärt i Tyskland. Men det är ett problem att lärlingssystemet inte etablerats i tjänstesektorn – den växande sektorn – i någon högre grad. Och många småföretag har inte råd att finansiera de mer avancerade lärlingsplatserna (483);
”again a significant shrinkage in the system’s coverage”.
Det tredje exemplet är arbetsmarknadens och välfärdsstatens institutioner. Thelen konstaterar att Pierson (1994) har en poäng;
“even if outright dismantling of the traditional protections has been politically impossible, the system as a whole is not as locked in as that literature sometimes implies. In fact, very significant changes have been accomplished in a different way, through what Eric Schickler has called institutional layering (Schickler 2001). This mode of change depicts a situation in which the original institutions are left in place, but new elements are added alongside the old system, elements that have transformative potential n the longer run (Mahoney and Thelen 2010b; Streeck and Thelen 2005b). This is the pattern of change one observes in German labour market institutions, through reforms that promote the growth of a low-wage sector and the accompanying changes this has prompted with respect to the two-tier system of unemployment support that emerged under the infamous Hartz reforms.” (484)
Avregleringarna av arbetsmarknaden har inte påverkat “core workers”. Men: ”labour market reforms in the late 1990s and early 2000s have essentially created a new layer, separate and indeed ‘encapsulated’ from those in standard employment relationships (Eichhorst and Kaiser 2006: 16, 21).” (484) Hartz IV innebar att a-kassan förkortades från max 3 år till max 1 år. T: skilled workers i västra delen av landet är sannolikt inte arbetslösa så länge i alla fall Hartz IV förändrade också finansieringen och försvagade stödet till de som inte tjänar tillräckligt mycket för att få go a-kassa. Dualisering: dessa hamnar istället i ett socialbidragssystem/poverty alleviation.
T sammanfattar den tyska utvecklingen
”All in all, the direction of change in Germany in these three realms seems more to conform to a pattern of dualization than liberalization. The coalitional dynamics that have produced this are complex, and ‘insiders’ have not won all the key reform battles (see, e.g. Häusermann forthcoming). However, simplifying somewhat, it also appears to be the case that the very same coalition that has allowed the country to avoid succumbing to liberalization has also actually prevented it from sustaining high levels of solidarism.” (485)Figur 2 klargör skillnaden mellan den institutionella trend i CMEs som Thelen ser (den gröna pilen), och den som hon menar att neokonvergensteoretikerna ser (den röda pilen):
NW-rutan är i princip tom i verkligheten; LMEs tenderar att vara i SW-rutan, ”suggesting that LMEs cannot sustain high levels of solidarism” (486).*
När Thelen diskuterar "modes and mechanisms of change", så blir det mycket Rehder:
“subtle but significant changes have been sought through efforts to reinterpret existing rules (and with conflicts in some cases being played out more in the courts than in the legislature).
An example of such strategies of change—though institutional conversion — can be found in the area of collective bargaining (on conversion see Streeck and Thelen 2005a, and Mahoney and Thelen 2010b). German employers have sought to challenge the traditional relationship between industry-level bargaining and local (plant-based) negotiations, by bringing court cases centring on the so-called ‘favourability clause’ (Günstigkeitsprinzip) (see especially Rehder 2006, on which I draw here). This rule is central to the German industrial relations system, and has clearly served in the past to shore up centralized bargaining. The law specifies that certain issues (including wages) that are regulated by collective bargaining are in fact reserved for the unions, and it therefore prohibits plant-level works councils from negotiating on these items unless, as the law stipulates, the result of these negotiations would redound ‘to the benefit of the worker’ (zu Gunsten des Arbeitnehmers, therefore: Günstigkeitsprinzip). It is permissible under the law, for example, for works councils to agree to wage increases above the contractual rate, but concession bargaining is ruled out.
There has been an interesting struggle in recent years, played out in the courts, in which firms (sometimes actually in alliance with their works councils) have argued that, in the context of high unemployment, a local deal that trades off lower wages against employment protection does redound ‘to the benefit of the worker’ and therefore is consistent with this law.” (487)
Hittills har facken vunnit dessa strider. Men om de förlorar den så blir resultatet att ”a rule that was originally designed to shore up centralization would be converted into a potentially very powerful vehicle for decentralization.” (488)
Thelens slutsats är mycket bra:
“In sum, and just as in the historical example of vocational education and training cited at the outset, the changes that are taking place across all these realms are such that they combine elements of stability and change. Where this is the case, it is not helpful to ask whether the old institutions have broken down or not. The point, rather, is to look at the way in which a shift in the coalition on which these institutions rest has produced a renegotiation of some aspects of the old system, while leaving other features in place.” (488)Och i slutsatserna återkommer hon till teorin**. I tabell 2 nedan klargörs ytterligare olika typer av institutionell förändring i de rika länderna***.
De "gap" som Pierson talat om kommer enligt Thelen från fyra olika håll. 1, institutionernas designers nödvändigt begränsade kognition och förutseende. 2, "gaps emerge because institution-building is often a matter of political compromise (Palier 2005; Schickler 2001). This means that institutions and rules are often ambiguous from the beginning, almost by design, as a consequence of the particular (often conflicting) coalition of interests that presides over their founding. Examples abound, but one that is touched on in the discussion above is centralized collective bargaining itself. This is a set of institutions which by its very nature is jointly forged and sustained by (at least segments of) labour and capital (Swenson 1991). /…/". 3. “Third, institutions are not neutral. Because they instantiate power, they are contested. However, since the ‘losers’ in these contests do not always go away, it sometimes happens that actors who are not part of the ‘design coalition’ may nonetheless find ways to occupy and redeploy institutions not of their own making. The example of the German vocational training model comes again to mind — its transformation from a weapon against organized labour into a core foundation for union strength. It is also perhaps worth noting in this context that this is a point that is almost completely lost in the path dependence literature, which invariably stresses how actors adapt their goals and strategies to the prevailing institutions (i.e. with the causal arrow running from institutions to strategies). My point here is something like the opposite, namely, that actors are always trying to bend the institutions and reinterpret the rules to fit their interests and goals (see also Mahoney and Thelen 2010b).” 4, “A fourth source of gaps, perhaps better thought of as an umbrella for the others, is time (Pierson 2004: ch. 4, passim). /…/ This is the point of the example of the Günstigkeitsprinzip, a classic example of a broader class of struggles over what goals institutions serve and how rules should be interpreted — struggles that therefore become important avenues through which these institutions and rules themselves evolve over time.”
Det är en briljant artikel och även Thelens slutsatser är mycket bra: NIE-inspirerade teoretiseringar av institutioner (t ex Weingast 2002), som ser institutioner som oproblematiska kompromisser, fattar inte institutionell förändring (492), och detsamma gäller sociologiska teoretiseringar som ser I som något som omedvetet görs (”the handshake is the institution”), fattar inte dynamiken mellan struktur och aktör.
*Tveksam tolkning av T: detta ”suggests that a high degree of employer co-ordination is necessary (though clearly not sufficient) to achieve high levels of social solidarity (see especially Kitschelt et al. 1999b). This pattern is also consistent with historical work on individual countries that clearly demonstrates that employer organization and power are not antithetical to high levels of labour organization and power — and may well be necessary to achieve the latter (Iversen and Soskice 2009; Swenson 2002; Thelen 2004).” (487)
**Bra teoretisk diskussion: “various modes of change that are ‘incremental but cumulatively transformative’ (Streeck and Thelen 2005a). The foregoing analysis has touched upon a number of these that are in evidence in the German case: institutional drift (collective bargaining and vocational training), conversion through reinterpretation (Günstigkeitsprinzip), and layering (labour market and social policy). In joint work, James Mahoney and I have offered some general propositions about the conditions under which one strategy or mode of change is more likely to emerge than another. Our framework links particular modes of change to specific features of the prevailing political context and of existing institutional rules, by asking two broad questions: (i) does the political context afford defenders of the status quo strong or weak veto possibilities? And (ii) does the targeted institution afford actors opportunities for exerting discretion in its implementation and enforcement? (Mahoney and Thelen 2010b). The answers to these questions produce the analytic space depicted in Table 2.
The foregoing discussion provides empirical examples of all of these modes of change except for outright displacement (lower left quadrant). As I have argued, the wholesale replacement of traditional rules and institutions with new ones is rare in the politics of reform in contemporary advanced capitalist economies.” (488)
***Så här klassificerar hon Rehders forskning om fördelaktighetsprincipen: “the example of the favourability principle (Günstigkeitsprinzip) represents at least the attempt at a strategy of conversion on the part of employers. In this case, the formal rule specifies what is and is not permissible, but much depends on how this rule is interpreted. Does the rule allow works councils to trade off concessions on one dimension (wages) for benefits on another dimension (employment security)? Or must the local deal improve on the industrial contract on each dimension separately? Such is the question that employers put to the courts, in the hope they would rule in favour of the former. The reality is that works councils already often agree to concessions in the ‘grey zone’ of the law, which therefore transpire under the radar (drift). By bringing the issue to the courts, employers hoped to anchor these practices formally, through an authoritative reinterpretation of the law. Clearly employers could have attempted to revise the law itself (in the legislature), but they correctly perceived that this strategy would run up against the opposition of major veto players (social democrats, unions). Thus, the attempt here was to shift the arena of conflict, that is, to move it to an arena where unions and their political allies have fewer possibilities to veto or block the reform — namely the courts. The idea was in effect to move the conflict from the upper right to the lower right quadrant (conversion).” (490)
Hacker, J. (2005). ‘Policy drift: the hidden politics of US welfare state retrenchment’. In W. Streeck and K. Thelen (eds.), Beyond Continuity: Institutional Change in Advanced Political Economies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 40–82.
Hassel, A. (1999). ‘The erosion of the German system of industrial relations’. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 37 (3): 484–505.
—— (2002). ‘The erosion continues: reply’. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 40 (2): 309–17.
Klikauer, T. (2002). ‘Stability in Germany’s industrial relations: a critique of Hassel’s erosion thesis’. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 40 (2): 295–308.
Howell, C. (2003). ‘Varieties of capitalism: and then there was one?’ Comparative Politics, 36 (1): 103–24.
Höpner, M. (2007). ‘Coordination and Organization: The Two Dimensions of Nonliberal Capitalism’. MPIfG Discussion Paper. Cologne: Max Planck Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung.
Schickler, E. (2001). Disjointed Pluralism: Institutional Innovation and the Development of the U.S. Congress. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
Thelen, K and Kume, I. (2006). ‘Coordination as a political problem in coordinated market economies’. Governance, 19 (1): 11–42.