Purpose – To explore and explain differences in reform of activation policies, comparing the shifts in governance in France and The Netherlands from the 1990s onwards. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on in‐depth case studies of the reform process in activation policies, using documentary sources and interviews with several stake‐holders. The theoretical scope is the debate on institutional change, path‐dependency and convergence. Findings – Although both countries demonstrate converging tendencies in the transformation of their activation policies, there are remarkable differences in the new modes of governance. Moving away from a traditionally hierarchical organisation, France is gradually developing a network model with more emphasis on decentralisation. Alternatively, The Netherlands privatised their public employment services and explore principal – agent realtions in activation. The institutional context of both nation, in particular the concept of path‐dependency, seems crucial in the explanation of these differences. However, some new elements are path‐breaking in a national context but do not illustrate converging trends. Research limitations/implications – This comparative study is aimed at the fields of employment services, social benefits and social assistance in two countries. For a more complete approach of the changes is activation policies, further research is needed to include other fields of social policy and other nations whithin Europe. Originality/value – The paper develops both empirical and theoretical conclusions on the path‐dependent and convergin elements in transforming labour market coordination throughout Europe.
International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 31, 2007
Keywords: Public policy; France; The Netherlands; Employment; Social security
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