The interplay of actor-related strategies and political context: a fuzzy-set QCA analysis of structural reforms in continental welfare states
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SourceJournal of European Public Policy, 24, 1, (2017), pp. 81-99
15 december 2015
Article / Letter to editor
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Journal of European Public Policy
SubjectInstitute for Management Research
European welfare states face numerous challenges which often necessitate risky policy choices. This article focuses on the role of key political actors, asking which actor-related strategies, under certain conditions, lead to structural reforms. These strategies are ideational leadership or reform-enhancing blame-avoidance strategies, combined with two political-contextual conditions. Four set-theoretic hypotheses about combinations of the latter and structural reforms are examined, using fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis. The data include 16 reform cases in four continental welfare states that are notoriously hard to reform: Germany; Austria; the Netherlands; and France. The findings show that the two actor-related strategies matter for structural reform in combination, while contextual conditions function as their complements. Distant elections are indeed conducive to such reforms, while governments with a positive or negative welfare image achieve them along different paths: either combined with two strategies; or, when elections are distant, combined with ideational leadership or concession-making.
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