Revisiting social concertation in Europe: A fsQCA-comparison of social partner involvement since the 2008 crisis

Why do some governments engage in extensive tripartite negotiations in order to overcome economic crises, while others choose to unilaterally pursue their agendas? We attempt to explain the European variation in national responses to the financial crises of 2008 and its economic and fiscal consequences and apply a comparative analysis on social concertation between governments, employer organizations and trade unions as part of crisis management. Drawing on an extensive dataset of 29 European countries (EU-27 plus Norway and Switzerland), we use fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) to assess which contextual factors can be identified as necessary or sufficient conditions for concertation efforts during the first five years. Specifically, the analysis studies economic pressure, governmental desire for political legitimacy, interest groups’ power resources, and institutional context and legacy promote or prevent tripartite interest mediation. The main findings indicate that political legtimacy and corporatist legacies matter most, and that concertation was unlikely when supranational intervention prevailed during the Euro-debt crisis since 2010.