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 Research Projects at the MPIfG

Does Business Need Social Policy? The Role of Employers in the Formation and Transformation of the German Welfare State

Thomas Paster

Research in comparative political economy traditionally views the formation and expansion of market-regulating institutions in the field of social policy and industrial relations as resulting from the strength of labor and the political parties affiliated with it (power resource approach). Recent research claims, however, that employers often supported the development of social policies because they perceived them as being in their own self-interest (revisionism). If confirmed, this new approach thus suggests that business interests, rather than the balance of class power, form the political foundations upon which the modern welfare state rests. This research project engages with this controversy empirically by conducting a comparative-historical analysis of the role of German employers in the development of the German welfare model from the 1880s to the 1990s. It focuses on the key reform projects that came to define the main structural features of the German welfare state. The goal is to assess the relative importance of political constraints and economic self-interests in motivating employers to support specific reforms. Project duration: October 2009 to September 2014.
Paster, Thomas, 2012: The Role of Business in the Development of the Welfare State and Labor Markets in Germany: Containing Social Reforms. London: Routledge.
Paster, Thomas, 2012: Do German Employers Support Board-level Codetermination? The Paradox of Individual Support and Collective Opposition. In: Socio-Economic Review 10(3), 471-495.
Paster, Thomas, 2013: Business and Welfare State Development: Why Did Employers Accept Social Reforms? World Politics 65(3), 416-451.
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