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The Political Economy of Occupational Family Policies: Comparing Workplaces in Britain and Germany


  • Martin Seeleib-Kaiser
  • Timo Fleckenstein


With a shift in the political debate to more market-driven social policy approaches during the past decade, politicians in a number of European countries have argued that employers should take on greater responsibilities in the provision of social policy. But why should employers get involved? After reviewing the relevant literature on firm-level social policy, we analyse the conditions and causal pathways that lead to their provision. Our findings show that (i) the skill structure and level of the workforce are important conditions for firm-level engagement; (ii) employers have usually been the 'protagonists'; (iii) the role of unions has been more limited - in Germany they can largely be characterized as 'consenters', whereas in Britain, their impact is negligible; (iv) in accordance with the specific systems of industrial relations, the design in Germany very much follows the concept of social partnership; in Britain the design is usually based on unilateral management decisions; and (v) based on these conditions and causal pathways, 'enclave social policy' is the likely result of the expansionary policy development, although in Germany, these policies have the potential of becoming an element of 'industrial citizenship'. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd/London School of Economics 2009.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Seeleib-Kaiser & Timo Fleckenstein, 2009. "The Political Economy of Occupational Family Policies: Comparing Workplaces in Britain and Germany," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 47(4), pages 741-764, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:47:y:2009:i:4:p:741-764

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John W. Budd & Karen Mumford, 2004. "Trade Unions and Family-Friendly Policies in Britain," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 57(2), pages 204-222, January.
    2. Budd, John W. & Mumford, Karen A., 2005. "Family-Friendly Work Practices in Britain: Availability and Perceived Accessibility," IZA Discussion Papers 1662, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    Cited by:

    1. Giuseppe Croce, "undated". "Tax-benefits policies jointly run by the social partners: Labour market implications of the Bipartite Sectoral Funds," Working Papers 173, University of Rome La Sapienza, Department of Public Economics.
    2. Wagemann, Claudius & Buche, Jonas & Siewert, Markus B., 2016. "QCA and business research: Work in progress or a consolidated agenda?," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(7), pages 2531-2540.

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