J. Timo Weishaupt
Neo-corporatist Revival in Continental Europe? Germany’s Social Partners as Crisis Mediators

Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago, IL, 29. August bis 01. September 2013

The global financial and economic crisis that began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2007 led to a dramatic increase in unemployment in most advanced post-industrial countries. Germany emerged as the only European country in 2011 to reach employment levels above pre-crisis levels. While the academic and policy literature is quick to point to both governmental short-time work and firms’ internal flexicurity measures as the key explanatory variable to Germany’s stellar success, we know little about how firms coordinated their responses across sectors and regions and why short-time work in Germany was more accepted and utilized than in other (corporatist) countries in Europe. This paper seeks to shed light on both of these questions by illuminating the role of employers’ associations and labor unions in minimizing employment loss during the winter of 2008/9 and generating employment gains since then. The paper’s main contention is that the consensus orientation of all major stakeholders allowed for the conclusion of an “informal” alliance for jobs at the federal level, which was then translated and communicated by the peak-level associations to their regional and local members.