FAOS contributes to new interdisciplinary book
Book chapter by Søren Kaj Andersen
A chapter written by Søren Kaj Andersen, FAOS, is featured in a new book by Susana Borrás and Leonard Seabrooke called 'Sources of National Institutional Competitiveness - Sensemaking in Institutional Change'.
European responses to the crisis
In 2008-2009 when the financial crisis began to impact on the labour markets we saw diverse policy initiatives regarding short-time work in the EU member states. Germany extended the existing short-time work scheme significantly. Predictably and in line with the liberal policy regime the UK never took any initiatives in this area. Denmark refrained from a more proactive use of an already existing scheme, and in Sweden - where no such scheme existed - the government rejected the idea of introducing it.
Subsequently, Germany has been highlighted as the prominent example of how a policy of expanded use of short-time work schemes successfully has contained the employment effects of the crisis.
Change or no change
The chapter is entitled 'Making Sense of Change and No Change in Employment Policies'. It explores the diverse processes of sense-making behind policy choices on short-time work in early phases of the crisis in selected European states, but with a focus on the Danish case. Employers’ associations, trade unions and governments are the actors making sense of policy initiatives in this field via their interpretation of organisational needs and interests. Their positions, eventual disagreements and conflicts are analysed. It is argued that the diverse policy choices on short-time work to a large degree followed existing national policy trajectories.
In other words: The external shock created by the crisis did not prompt institutional change. Rather, short-time work initiatives (or lack of such initiatives) can be interpreted as adaptation within existing institutions. Further, sense-making of specific policy initiatives, like short-time work, must be seen within the wider framework of employment policy reforms in the individual countries over the last decade or more. Specific policy initiatives become part of a larger institutional set-up which raises the questions of institutional fit of new initiatives and especially how it affects institutional competitiveness.