6th Framework Programme (2002-2006)
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Project 18a Detail:
Distributive Politics, Learning and Reform: Emergence and Evolution of National Social Pacts
Project completed

The Project on ‘Distributive Politics: Experimentation, Learning and Reform’ studied the sources (emergence) and dynamics (evolution) of learning and innovation of socio-economic governance, focusing on social pacts, partnership and concertation. The questions addressed in this project were studied through a set of comparative case studies of social pact negotiations and concertation practices in seven European countries: Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain. For this reason, the project included country-specialist partners in charge of doing research on these national cases and elaborating country reports.

The choice of countries was dictated by the fact that there have been interesting though varying experiences with social partnership and pacts in recent times. They also represent countries form different stages in the development of the European Union: two (Italy, Netherlands) from the original six; three of the ‘peripheral’ and ‘catching-up economies (Ireland, Spain and Portugal) that joined the European Union some time later, and two candidate countries (Poland and Slovenia) that acceded to the EU in 2004. We were looking across these countries for maximum differences concerning the institutions we were interested in and usually considered important for social partnership and concertation.

The case studies provided the ground for testing the analytical model which was developed and stimulated the development of a rich database on social pacts, together with a host of institutional and political conditions. The ICTWSS (Institutional Characteristics of Trade Unions, Wage Setting, State Intervention and Social Pacts) database (extended to 34 countries and nearly four decades, allowing a more rigorous analysis of the economic, political and institutional conditions associated with the emergence and evolution of social pacts – responding to the two key questions of the project:

(1) institutional formation, i.e., how do social pacts as particular forms of co-production of policies and rules between governments, unions and employers emerge?

(2) institutional development, i.e. how do such social pacts subsequently evolve, continue over time, extend across policy domains and levels, change power relations and decision making procedures, and build new or alter existing institutions.

Page updated: 10/12/08

Co-ordinated by the European University Institute