Globalisation, policy convergence and labour market: thepolitical economy of reforms

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Mahmood, Zaad
  • Subject: T

This dissertation shows the relevance of political agency under conditions\ud of globalisation through a sub-national comparative study of labour market\ud reforms. The study builds upon existing literature by highlighting ‘relative\ud autonomy’ of political actors and dynamics in determining policy and outcome.\ud Such an assertion contradicts the purely structuralist interpretations of reform and\ud asserts that forces of globalisation can be negotiated by domestic political actors.\ud Based on the study of labour flexibility the dissertation argues that political\ud variables, specifically partisan orientation and nature of party competition,\ud influence the pace and direction of reforms producing sub-national variations. As\ud revealed governments backed by a relatively homogenous dominant support base\ud with business representation undertake greater labour market reforms compared to\ud governments with heterogeneous base. The difference in orientation to reform is\ud due to differences in distributive and redistributive pressures emanating from\ud support base.\ud Another important finding of this research concerns the impact of party\ud competition on reforms. Contrary to conventional understanding that\ud fragmentation impedes reforms, the case study, reveals that fragmentation in the\ud party system facilitates labour market reforms. The result indicate that the impact\ud of political fragmentation on reform is not generic, and intermediate factors such\ud as configuration of electoral cleavages influence the relation.\ud In sum, the dissertation argues that variations in strength of interest groups\ud i.e. trade unions and business, the nature of party competition and configuration of\ud electoral groups combine to produce variation in reforms. Although such a claim\ud cannot undermine the increased relevance of market forces consequent upon\ud globalisation, theoretically, it does point out that reforms emerge in the\ud interrelation between economic considerations vis-à-vis political imperatives.\ud Public policy under conditions of globalisation is shaped not merely by economic\ud concerns but mirrors social trade-offs and varieties of social configuration.
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