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Governance Dynamics in European Employment Policy

Keywords: Employment policy , governance , institutional change , path dependency

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Abstract:

In the last decade, modern welfare states were confronted with major economic, technological, and demographic challenges. Extensive research has been done on the ways in which modern welfare states respond to these challenges (e.g., Starke et al. 2008, Scharpf and Schmidt 2000). However, in this research usually the contents of the policies take a central place. This article focuses on the extent to which changes in the governance mechanisms in social security and employment policy might be observed. Three types of governance mechanisms are distinguished in this article: hierarchical governance, market governance, and societal governance. This article explores the differences in changes in governance mechanisms that can be observed in six European countries. Moreover, it assesses three potential explanations for these differences. The first explanation assumes a global trend towards market-based mechanisms of governance. The second explanation focuses on the concept of policy learning in the European Union. In the third explanation, historical differences and path dependencies stand central. The article concludes that, despite some converging tendencies, historical differences, to a large extent, account for remaining differences in the use of governance mechanisms in employment policies.

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