Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage is a book edited by political economists Peter A. Hall and David Soskice. In their sizable introductory chapter Hall and Soskice set out two distinct types of capitalist economies: liberal market economies (LME) (e.g., U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland) and coordinated market economies (CME) (e.g. Germany, Japan, Sweden, Austria). Those two types can be distinguished by the primary way in which firms coordinate with each other and other actors, such as trade unions. In LMEs firms primarily coordinate their endeavours by way of hierarchies and market mechanisms.
See also “simple and complex polities” within the Discursive Institutionalism literature
A Critique of the “Varieties of Capitalism” Approach
The objective of this paper is to critically review the so-called “varieties of capitalism” (VoC) approach. This is a meaningful exercise given the popularity of the VoC approach across wide ranging disciplines, from political economy to economic sociology to management studies, and especially taking into consideration, the recent show of interest in the approach by the writers of corporate social responsibility (CSR) seeking to explore varieties of CSR institutions and practices across nations. This paper discusses the merits and shortcomings of the VoC approach, focusing on five key issues, namely, the VoC’s approach to studying national diversity, its focus on the firm as the key actor, its core concepts, “system coordination” and “institutional complementarity”, its potential for analysing institutional change, and finally, the policy implications that can be drawn from its framework.
This article – Mikler, J. and Harrison, N. 2012. Varieties of Capitalism and Technological Innovation for Climate Change Mitigation, New Political Economy, 17:2, 179-208 – is good
Yet it must be conceded that generalisations about the radical versus incremental nature of innovation in LMEs versus CMEs have been repeatedly challenged, particularly in respect of the US. This is because there is a longstanding literature demonstrating the remarkable extent to which the US government is a supporter of basic scientific research, both directly, through universities, and through the Department of Defense (e.g. see Ashford et al. 1979; Wilson et al. 1980; Smith 1985; Lederman 1994; Noble 1994). Indeed, recent articles by Block (2008) and Block and Keller (2009) highlight how the expanding role of public institutions and public funding in the innovation process since the 1970s increasingly makes the US look surprisingly state-coordinated.16
(Mikler and Harrison, 2012:188)
Haven’t read this – but looks interesting Taylor, M.Z. (2004), ‘Empirical Evidence against Varieties of Capitalism’s Theory of Technological Innovation’, International Organization, 58 (3), pp. 601–31.
Rossi, U. 2012 On the varying ontologies of capitalism: Embeddedness, dispossession, subsumption. Progress in Human Geography, Vol. 37(3), pp. 348–365.
This article offers a substantive understanding of the variegation of capitalism, in an attempt to move beyond the current impasse in the mainstream varieties-of-capitalism approach. Drawing on existing conceptualizations of capitalism-society relationships, as well as on Agamben’s reconceptualization of the Foucaldian notion of ‘dispositif’, the article identifies the ontological ‘dispositifs’ of embeddedness, dispossession and subsumption, associating them with ‘purely relational’, ‘sovereignty-based’ and ‘dualistic’ ontologies of capitalism, respectively. The article argues that these dispositifs are instrumental in capitalism’s process of subjectification, laying the foundations for a renewed belief in capitalism even under the most adverse conditions.