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The Survival and Return of Institutions: Examples from Pension Reforms in Central, Eastern and South-eastern Europe

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Opening a new phase in historical institutionalism, Wolfgang Streeck and Kathleen Thelen show how a rigid dichotomy between incremental adaptation and radical transformation fails to capture important transformative processes common to advanced political economies. While their research focuses on gradual but radical transformation, the two authors leave open the interpretation of what constitutes abrupt, but only limited change. This article integrates their framework, defines what they call survival and return, and, within this genus, indicates two analytically distinct species: replication, where the old logic survives due to the redundancy of the new institutional arrangement; and reaction, where structural reforms generate demand for the old incentive structures, which are ultimately reintroduced. To elucidate the concepts, recent Croatian, Hungarian and Polish pension reforms are compared and their institutional instability analysed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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