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Acting on the Edge of Public Sector: Hospital Corporatization and Collective Bargaining in Hungary and Slovakia


  • Marta Kahancová


  • Imre Gergely Szabó



Effective public sector management became central to economic and political debates across Europe in the last decade. One of the most affected domains is public healthcare that is often subject to ambiguous reforms combining private and public sector “best practices”. This paper attempts to extend our theoretical and empirical knowledge on healthcare reforms and their effect on employment relations in Hungary and Slovakia. A particularly salient feature of healthcare reforms in both countries is hospital corporatization, defined as a process in which public hospitals become subject to regulations applicable to private sector companies, formally entailing the possibility of bankruptcy. We argue that effects of corporatization on employment relations are more complex than the available literature in organizational change and public sector management suggests. Corporatization contributed to stability in bargaining patterns, while produced diversity in bargaining outcomes in Hungary and Slovakia. Particular effects of corporatization have been channelled through the interests and responses of involved actors. Despite market-oriented reforms of the institutional environment, we found remarkable similarities in how actors responded to hospital reorganization; and in the stability of bargaining institutions due to actors’ commitment or inability to bring forth institutional change in bargaining patterns.

Suggested Citation

  • Marta Kahancová & Imre Gergely Szabó, 2012. "Acting on the Edge of Public Sector: Hospital Corporatization and Collective Bargaining in Hungary and Slovakia," Discussion Papers 1, Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI).
  • Handle: RePEc:cel:dpaper:1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Damian Grimshaw & Karen Jaehrling & Marc van Der Meer & Philippe Méhaut & Nirit Shimron, 2007. "Convergent and divergent country trends in coordinated wage-setting and collective bargaining in the public hospitals sector," Post-Print halshs-00332473, HAL.
    2. D. Stark, 1996. "Recombinant Property in East European Capitalism," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 6.
    3. Pollitt, Christopher & Bouckaert, Geert, 2004. "Public Management Reform: A Comparative Analysis," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, edition 2, number 9780199268498.
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    More about this item


    public healthcare reform; hospital corporatization; collective bargaining; working conditions; Central and Eastern Europe;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects
    • J52 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Dispute Resolution: Strikes, Arbitration, and Mediation
    • J81 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Working Conditions
    • L32 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Public Enterprises; Public-Private Enterprises
    • P26 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Political Economy


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