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Unhinged: Industrial relations liberalization and capitalist instability

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  • Baccaro, Lucio
  • Howell, Chris

Abstract

This paper makes two interrelated arguments. First, based on case studies of Sweden and Germany, it argues for a generalized liberalization trend in industrial relations, affecting not just "liberal" but also "coordinated" forms of capitalism. In coordinated economies, liberalization has not taken place primarily through outright deregulation, but has involved alternative mechanisms that increase employer discretion without fundamentally altering the form of existing institutions. Second, the paper links the liberalization of industrial relations to "secular stagnation" - i.e., to the growing difficulty that all advanced economies have in generating adequate levels of aggregate demand. It argues that strong unions and centralized collective bargaining were cornerstones of the wage-led Fordist model, and that the liberalization of industrial relations has undermined a crucial institutional channel for transmitting productivity increases into real wages and aggregate demand. Post-Fordist growth models are based on alternative drivers of growth, but they are all fundamentally unstable.

Suggested Citation

  • Baccaro, Lucio & Howell, Chris, 2017. "Unhinged: Industrial relations liberalization and capitalist instability," MPIfG Discussion Paper 17/19, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgd:1719
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    capitalism; liberalization; industrial relations; secular stagnation; Europe; Kapitalismus; Liberalisierung; industrielle Beziehungen; säkulare Stagnation; Europa;
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