New books


How Institutions Evolve

The Political Economy of Skills in Germany, Britain, the United States and Japan

Kathleen Thelen

Cambridge University Press 2004, 352 s. ISBN 0521546745
Bogomtale fra forlaget.

The institutional arrangements governing skill formation are widely seen as a key element in the institutional constellations defining ‘varieties of capitalism’ across the developed democracies. This book explores the origins and evolution of such institutions in four countries - Germany, Britain, the United States and Japan. It traces cross-national differences in contemporary training regimes back to the nineteenth century, and specifically to the character of the political settlement achieved among employers in skill-intensive industries, artisans, and early trade unions. The book also tracks evolution and change in training institutions over a century of development, uncovering important continuities through putative ‘break points’ in history. Crucially, it also provides insights into modes of institutional change that are incremental but cumulatively transformative. The study underscores the limits of the most prominent approaches to institutional change, and identifies the political processes through which the form and functions of institutions can be radically reconfigured over time.


1. The political economy of skills in comparative-historical perspective; 2. The evolution of skill formation in Germany; 3. The evolution of skill formation in Britain; 4. The evolution of skill formation in Japan and the United States; 5. Evolution and change in the German system of vocational training; 6. Conclusions, empirical and theoretical.