The polder model reviewed: Dutch corporatism 1965-2000

J.J. Woldendorp, J.E. Keman

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The Dutch Polder Model gained international reputation in the 1990s as an example of a successful and peaceful incomes management policy while coping with severe pressure. This article claims that the Polder Model has been overrated and so has its performance in terms of consensus (central agreements). The article discusses the emergence and working of this model in three parts. First, the behaviour of the relevant actors (government, trade unions and employers' organizations) during negotiations on incomes policy is examined. The government employed more often than not a corporatist strategy; however, the social partners did not comply and displayed competitive behaviour. Second, the outcome of the negotiations in terms of central agreements is analysed. The actual performance rate is low due to 'tough' bargaining between social partners, and not all central agreements were reached through a corporatist government strategy. Finally, the dominance of social democracy in government after 1994 did not increase the number of central agreements. This research demonstrates that there is no typical or successful Dutch Polder Model. Rather, the behaviour of the actors and related performance are structured by macroeconomic circumstances and exogenous influences. © 2007 Uppsala University.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-347
Number of pages31
JournalEconomic and Industrial Democracy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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