State, Labor, and the Transition to a Market Economy

Egypt, Poland, Mexico, and the Czech Republic

By (author) Agnieszka Paczyńska

Paperback - £28.95

Publication date:

15 November 2012

Length of book:

292 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271034379

In response to mounting debt crises and macroeconomic instability in the 1980s, many countries in the developing world adopted neoliberal policies promoting the unfettered play of market forces and deregulation of the economy and attempted large-scale structural adjustment, including the privatization of public-sector industries. How much influence did various societal groups have on this transition to a market economy, and what explains the variances in interest-group influence across countries?

In this book, Agnieszka Paczyńska explores these questions by studying the role of organized labor in the transition process in four countries in different regions—the Czech Republic and Poland in eastern Europe, Egypt in the Middle East, and Mexico in Latin America. In Egypt and Poland, she shows, labor had substantial influence on the process, whereas in the Czech Republic and Mexico it did not. Her explanation highlights the complex relationship between institutional structures and the “critical junctures” provided by economic crises, revealing that the ability of groups like organized labor to wield influence on reform efforts depends to a great extent on not only their current resources (such as financial autonomy and legal prerogatives) but also the historical legacies of their past ties to the state.

This new edition features an epilogue that analyzes the role of organized labor uprisings in 2011, the protests in Egypt, the overthrow of Mubarak, and the post-Mubarak regime.

“In explaining the variation in the ability of labor organizations to determine the nature and pace of privatization design and implementation, Paczyńska thoughtfully examines the historical legacies of state-labor interactions and shows how past interactions influenced the resources available to labor when lobbying for particular strategies of structural reform. Scholars of privatization, labor politics, postcommunist transition, and structural adjustment will all value the clarity and empirical richness of this work.”

—Hilary Appel, Claremont McKenna College