Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

FP6

ESEMK Berichtzusammenfassung

Project ID: 506077
Gefördert unter: FP6-CITIZENS
Land: France

Final Report Summary - ESEMK (The European socio-economic models of a knowledge-based society)

Considering this diversity of capitalism within European Union, the aim of the ESEMK project was:
- to propose a more adapted analysis of the socio-economic development models in Europe, the transformations affecting them, both at the macro- and at the micro- / meso-levels;
- to assess the chances of emergence of a specific European socio-economic model distinct from the models existing in other developed regions of the world; and
- to analyse how it can represent an original path towards the knowledge-based society.

Like any comparative approach of capitalism, the institutional complementarity and hierarchy approach is considered. One can illustrate the possibilities opened by the method by looking at the possible transformations affecting the continental European model. This model has experienced substantial changes during the past decade. It is possible to analyse the evolutions of the model with the help of institutional complementarities. In fact, the continental European model would most probably be impossible to 'reform' with a simultaneous action in every institutional domain, if only because of the political opposition that such reforms would provoke. On the other hand, incremental changes in a limited number of areas, affecting some institutional complementarities, may make the model slowly crumble, by a significant weakening of the overall coherence of the model. New complementarities may appear, that may lead to the emergence and stabilisation of, for instance, a continental version of the neo-liberal model.

Such a methodology led to specific analyses, leading to the following conclusions:
- financial liberalisation threatens the stability of financing relationships (a conclusion confirmed by the financial crisis opened in September-October 2008);
- increase in competition in product and service markets intensifies the pressures in favour of labour market flexibilisation;
- more job insecurity leads to demands for more social security;
- lower tax rates (fiscal competition) threaten the financial stability of the welfare state;
- labour market flexibility discourages investment in specific assets (specialised skills, loyalty, effort…).

At the level of firms, ESEMK project analysed the diversity of productive models within European industries, using the theoretical grid of productive models proposed by Boyer and Freyssenet (2000). This model paved the way to the development of an analytical grid that encourages thinking about the diversity of firms' forms of organisation within any given sector - in that case the car industry, which was the emblematic sector of Japanese international competitiveness in the late 1980s, but its application to the pharmaceutical industry within ESEMK project opened new perspective.

ESEMK analysed current institutional changes occurring in Europe, their impacts on socioeconomic development models and their policy implications, mainly on three main institutional areas: product market regulation, employment relationships, and financial system. For each institutional area, the research team has considered how transformations taking place at the macro / societal level, at the meso / industry level and at the micro / company level interact. The impacts of product market deregulation, which is at the core of the European structural reforms, including in the Lisbon Agenda, have been discussed at the macro and the meso (industry) levels.

The ESEMK main findings and conclusions presented could be summarised as follows:
1. First of all, a strong effort has been realised to develop an analytical framework which articulates the macro-level (socio-economic model), the meso-level (sector or industry) and the micro-level (productive models for firms).
2. Using these analytical tools, the project analysed current institutional changes occurring in Europe, their impacts on socioeconomic development models and their policy implications, on three main institutional areas: product market regulation, labour market, and financial system. These transformations have been developed at the macro / societal level, at the meso / industry level and at the micro / company level.
3. These modifications do not lead, neither to the emergence of a specific European model exhibiting distinct characteristics (social protection, corporate governance…), neither to convergence towards a market-based model, discussing the Lisbon agenda within this theoretical framework.

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Yannick LUNG
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