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Welfare and Work in the Open Economy Volume II: Diverse Responses to Common Challenges in Twelve Countries$
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Fritz W. Scharpf and Vivien A. Schmidt

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780199240920

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199240922.001.0001

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How Small Countries Negotiate Change Twenty‐Five Years of Policy Adjustment in Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium

How Small Countries Negotiate Change Twenty‐Five Years of Policy Adjustment in Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium

Chapter:
(p.175) 5 How Small Countries Negotiate Change Twenty‐Five Years of Policy Adjustment in Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium
Source:
Welfare and Work in the Open Economy Volume II: Diverse Responses to Common Challenges in Twelve Countries
Author(s):

Anton Hemerijck

Brigitte Unger

Jelle Visser (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199240922.003.0005

Although Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium are so seemingly alike in their tightly coupled, consociational, and corporatist democratic structures and in the “Bismarckian” origin of their welfare states, they have had radically different experiences since the 1970s. While the Netherlands, which appeared in the 1970s and early 1980s to be afflicted with a terminal ‘Dutch disease’, has seemingly been cured, Belgium, with a similar initial profile, has been malingering and Austria has managed to avoid the crises from which the others are recovering. Since all three countries have internationally exposed and hence vulnerable economies as well as policymaking structures with plural veto positions, the success or failure of adjustment policies did depend on the ability of actors to adopt action orientations that emphasize common, rather than separate, interests. The Austrian social partners succeeded in maintaining this ‘encompassing’ perspective throughout the period under study; the Dutch had to relearn it after dismal failures; and in Belgium, the increasing salience of linguistic cleavages added to the difficulty of achieving, and acting on, convergent perceptions and interest definitions.

Keywords:   Austria, Belgium, Bismarckian welfare state, consociationalism, corporatism, Dutch disease, language communities, Netherlands, social partners, veto positions

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