An Introduction to Varieties of Capitalism (Peter Hall)

6190 Words25 Pages
Abstract: This chapter outlines the theoretical perspective behind a ‘varieties of capitalism' approach to comparative political economy, emphasizing the central role of the firm as the agent of economic adjustment and the impact of the relationships it forms in the spheres of corporate governance, labor relations, skill formation, inter-corporate relations, and employer–employee relations. It develops the distinction between liberal market economies, where firm endeavours are coordinated primarily by markets, and coordinated market economies, where coordination is more heavily strategic, and explores how the institutional complementarities in these economies give rise to distinctive forms of innovation as well as comparative institutional…show more content…
As any work on this topic must be, ours is deeply indebted to prior scholarship in the field. The ‘varieties of capitalism' approach developed here can be seen as an effort to go beyond three perspectives on institutional variation that have dominated the study of comparative capitalism in the preceding thirty years. 2 2 Of necessity, this summary is brief and slightly stylized. As a result, it does not do full justice to the variety of analyses found within these literatures and neglects some discussions that fall outside them. Note that some of our own prior work can be said to fall within them. For more extensive reviews, see Hall (1999, 2001). In important respects, like ours, each of these perspectives was a response to the economic problems of its time. The first of these perspectives offers a modernization approach to comparative capitalism nicely elucidated in Shonfield's magisterial treatise of 1965. Devised in the post-war decades, this approach saw the principal challenge confronting the developed economies as one of modernizing industries still dominated by pre-war practices in order to secure high rates of national growth. Analysts tried to identify a set of actors with the strategic capacity to devise plans for industry and to impress them on specific sectors. Occasionally, this capacity was said to reside in the banks but more often in public officials.
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