A General Motors Works Council's Response to the Capitalist Global Financial Crisis: A Case Study from Germany

By Klikauer, Thomas | Capital & Class, June 2012 | Go to article overview

A General Motors Works Council's Response to the Capitalist Global Financial Crisis: A Case Study from Germany


Klikauer, Thomas, Capital & Class


Introduction: A short overview of IR at GM-Opel, and varieties of capitalism

Unlike Anglo-Saxon industrial relations (IR) that reflect a 'liberal market economy' (LME), German IR has been closer to a 'coordinated market economy' (Hall and Soskice, 2001; Klikauer and Donn, 2004a; Frege, 2005; Jackson, 2007; Towers, 2007, Thelen and Hall, 2009). According to Hall and Soskice's Varieties of Capitalism (2001: 8fl; cf. Hodgson, 1995; Becker, 2009), economic affairs inside LMEs are coordinated via hierarchies and competitive arrangements based on market relationships. This has created an arm's-length exchange of goods and services arranged under competition and formal contracting, where price signals are generated by markets. LMEs are based on supply and demand on the basis of margin calculations. This follows neoclassical economics in enshrining market institutions to coordinate economies.

CMEs, on the other hand, have adopted exchange mechanisms and information transmission inside networks with a high reliance on collaborative relationships. This occurred in Germany despite the current fashion for 'erosion assertion' in German IR (Abrahamson, 1996; Rehder, 2003, 2006; Streeck, 2005a, 2005b, 2007, 2008; Thelen and Kume, 2006; Thelen and Martin, 2007). Business affairs and IR in CME's more social-market oriented economies tend to exclude competition in favour of coordination. Coordination among companies in CMEs occurs as a result of strategic interaction among firms and other actors. Hence Hall and Soskice's (2001) five coordination problems--vocational training, corporate governance, inter-firm relations, employee-management coordination and IR- have found different solutions in LMEs (e.g. AngloSaxon countries) to those of CMEs, as in the case of Germany (Grahl and Teague, 2004; Thelen, 2009a, 2009b).

Despite the popularity of Hall and Soskice's Varieties of Capitalism (2001), with half a million Google hits (April 2011), there are serious shortcomings with this approach:

1. Contrasting 'Good Capitalism' with 'Bad Capitalism' increases the tendency to forget that these are mere variations on a theme called capitalism, and that this does not alter the pathologies of capitalism (Marx, 1890; Marcuse, 1966: 101; Burkett and Hart-Landsberg, 2003; Watson, 2003; Baumol et al., 2007; Moore, 2009; Bruff and Morton, 2010).

2. Hall and Soskice (2001) appear to be more interested in differentiating the ways in which competitive advantage can be achieved in LMEs and CMEs than in bringing to our attention the inherent contradictions inside each model, between both models, and in capitalism in general.

3. It presents each box as producing stability and is slightly determinist, instead of highlighting the dynamics of capitalism at a micro-, meso-, and marco- level (Deeg and Jackson, 2007; Crouch, 2007).

4. One cannot argue that capitalism is geographically fixed. While capitalism has only one true model--capitalism itself--it has never been determined by geography or nationality because its character transcends nations and geographical locations. Hall and Soskice (2001) tend to gloss over significant variations within their two ideal-types.

5. Social structures of accumulation such as those activated along the lines of class, race, and gender remain unexplored by Hall and Soskice (2001).

6. Their approach does not account for what became known as GVCs (global value chains) and GPN (global production networks), which cross over the boundaries drawn by Hall and Soskice (2001; Thompson and Vincent, 2010).

7. Hall and Soskice cannot be used to 'Eclipse the Reasons' (Horkheimer, 1947) for the enduring social, political, and economical suffering that capitalism causes.

Bearing these shortcomings in mind, their approach is not used to highlight, for example, Germany's CME-like approach to IR as defined by a non-competitive regime of a duality of legal regulation and trade union structures that involve all three actors (state, trade unions/works councils, and employers/management) at the national (federal), industrial (metal), corporate (GMO), factory (Russelsheim, Eisenach, Bochum, Kaiserslautern), and workplace (e. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A General Motors Works Council's Response to the Capitalist Global Financial Crisis: A Case Study from Germany
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.