Governing Activation in Europe: Diverse Responses to Common Challenges?

Research question/goal: 

European welfare states have seen a deliberate shift from passive to active and activating labor-market measures. While there are numerous studies assessing associated national policy changes, a wide-open gap remains regarding the governance of activation. Accordingly, this study proposes two central questions:

  1. What explains cross-national trends of convergence and divergence in the governance of activation?
  2. How are decisions made by policy makers implemented at the local level, why so, and with what effect?

By answering these questions, this study will not only generate policy-relevant knowledge, but also contribute to the literatures on institutional change, international policy diffusion and social learning. While a general overview provides insights to the organization and evolution of most western activation governance systems, four countries have been selected for in-depth case studies: Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. These four cases represent four reform-oriented countries with converging organizational features, and yet diverging local strategies of policy implementation.

Current stage: 

In 2013, several papers were prepared and presented at international conferences, including the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA). Currently, two of the papers are being prepared for submission to high-ranking international journals in early 2014. A third paper, published as a book chapter in 2013, was the basis for becoming a member of RESQ, the Reform of Employment Services Quorum. A fourth paper has been re-submitted for a second round of reviews to Social Policy and Administration.

Fact sheet

2009 to 2014
in preparation
Data Sources: 
Archival research, text analyses, expert surveys, interviews
Geographic Space: 
Western Europe



Barcevičius, Egidijus, J. Timo Weishaupt and Jonathan Zeitlin (Eds.) (2014): Assessing the Open Method of Coordination: Institutional Design and National Influence of EU Social Policy Coordination. Basingstoke: Palgrave. [Work and Welfare in Europe] more
Weishaupt, J. Timo (2011): From the Manpower Revolution to the Activation Paradigm: Explaining Institutional Continuity and Change in an Integrating Europe. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. [Changing Welfare States] more