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Does the Organization of Capital Matter? Employers and Active Labor Market Policy at the National and Firm Levels


Does the organization of business matter for social policy development in the advanced capitalist democracies? Conventional welfare state analysis has given this significant question scant attention. We argue, however, that the representational power of business, coordination across business interest units, and integration of associations in corporatist policy-making forums, or what we call the social corporatist organization of business, should result in greater support and participation by employers in social policy formation and implementation. We test our arguments with models both of 1980–98 pooled time-series data on within- and across-country variation in spending on active labor market programs and of extensive firm-level survey data from Denmark and the United Kingdom. We find that the centralization and coordination of employers as well as the integration of employer organizations in corporatist policy-making forums are strongly associated with shares of national income devoted to active labor market policy. We find, moreover, that the degree of employer organization conditions active labor market policy responses to “de-industrialization” and increases in general unemployment. At the firm level, membership in an employer association has a significant positive effect on employer participation in active labor market programs in corporatist Denmark but not in the pluralist United Kingdom.

Corresponding author
Cathie Jo Martin is Professor, Department of Political Science, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215 (
Duane Swank is Professor, Department of Political Science, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881 (
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