Organisational reforms in active welfare states: A comparative analysis of the turn to 'single gateways' in Western Europe


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Organisational reforms in active welfare states: A comparative analysis of the turn to 'single gateways' in Western Europe
Champion C.
Bonoli  G.
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté des hautes études commerciales
Faculté des hautes études commerciales (HEC)Université de LausanneUNIL - DorignyInternef - bureau 317CH-1015 LausanneSUISSE
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Based on the case of reforms aimed at integrating the provision of income protection and employment services for jobless people in Europe, this thesis seeks to understand the reasons which may prompt governments to engage in large-scale organisational reforms. Over the last 20 years, several European countries have indeed radically redesigned the organisational structure of their welfare state by merging or bundling existing front-line offices in charge of benefit payment and employment services together into 'one-stop' agencies.
Whereas in academic and political debates, these reforms are generally presented as a necessary and rational response to the problems and inconsistencies induced by fragmentation in a context of the reorientation of welfare states towards labour market activation, this thesis shows that the agenda setting of these reforms is in fact the result of multidimensional political dynamics. More specifically, the main argument of this thesis is that these reforms are best understood not so such from the problems induced by organisational compartmentalism, whose political recognition is often controversial, but from the various goals that governments may simultaneously achieve by means of their adoption.
This argument is tested by comparing agenda-setting processes of large-scale reforms of coordination in the United Kingdom (Jobcentre Plus), Germany (Hartz IV reform) and Denmark (2005 Jobcentre reform), and contrasting them with the Swiss case where the government has so far rejected any coordination initiative involving organisational redesign. This comparison brings to light the importance, for the rise of organisational reforms, of the possibility to couple them with the following three goals: first, goals related to the strengthening of activation policies; second, institutional goals seeking to redefine the balance of responsibilities between the central state and non-state actors, and finally electoral goals for governments eager to maintain political credibility. The decisive role of electoral goals in the three countries suggests that these reforms are less bound by partisan politics than by the particular pressures facing governments arrived in office after long periods in opposition.
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04/10/2013 9:35
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20/08/2019 15:19
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