Journal Article

Asset specificity, institutional complementarities and the variety of skill regimes in coordinated market economies

Marius R. Busemeyer

in Socio-Economic Review

Published on behalf of Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics

Volume 7, issue 3, pages 375-406
Published in print July 2009 | ISSN: 1475-1461
Published online May 2009 | e-ISSN: 1475-147X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwp009
Asset specificity, institutional complementarities and the variety of skill regimes in coordinated market economies

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The concept of asset specificity has become very prominent in the literature on skill formation, welfare states and labour markets. Building on the varieties of capitalism (VoC) school, this paper points out three distinct shortcomings of this literature: first, the VoC approach does not fully account for the variation of skill regimes in coordinated market economies (CMEs); second, the VoC approach underestimates the importance of authoritative certification in determining the real portability of vocational skills; and third, the complementarities between skill formation and social policies are different from what is expected in the VoC contributions. I argue that the variation of skill regimes in CMEs covers not one, but two separate dimensions: firms' involvement in skill formation and the vocational specificity of the education system. On the basis of three case studies, I demonstrate the existence of three distinct skill regimes in CMEs: the segmentalist (firm-based) skill regime of Japan, the integrationist (school-based occupational) skill regime of Sweden and the differentiated (workplace-based occupational) skill regime of Germany.

Keywords: skills; political economy; varieties of capitalism; training; labor market institutions; welfare state; I20 education and research institutions; J24 human capital, skills, occupational choice, labor productivity; J50 labor–management relations, trade unions, collective bargaining

Journal Article.  11851 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy ; Corporate Social Responsibility ; Welfare Economics ; Political Economy ; Economic Sociology

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