Thomas Paster


Current Research Projects


Employers and Social Compromise: What Explains Variation in Business Attitudes towards Institutions of Social Partnership?

Historically, employers’ associations were often founded to fight organized labor. In the postwar period they almost universally came to endorse social partnership, that is, the institutionalized cooperation with organized labor often under the benevolent auspices of government. In recent decades, however, business attitudes diverged. Employers’ associations in some countries, but not in others, began to withdraw their allegiance to social partnership and the policy compromises associated with it. How can we explain this divergence? Why do some associations turn to confrontation, while others continue to value social compromise? Based on comparative case studies, the project investigates alternative explanations of this divergence, which draw on the role of labor, on economic structure, on institutions of policy-making, and on the organizational setup of business interest associations. The project contributes to wider debates in comparative political economy on the impact of business interests on the liberalization of labor relations.


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

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.


Business Attitudes toward Codetermination in Germany

Existing studies on employers’ preferences towards institutions of class
cooperation suggest that certain types of employers support these institutions
because they provide economic benefits. To test this thesis, this project examines
attitudes of German employers towards board-level codetermination. It compares
firms’ attitudes at the individual and the collective level: individual firms’ attitudes
are analysed using survey data and media statements from individual executives;
collective attitudes are analysed using policy statements from the national
business federations.


Thomas Paster - Research Projects | [Last update 01.08.2012]