Crisis and opportunity: varieties of capitalism and varieties of crisis responses in Estonia and Slovenia

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A growing literature has analysed capitalist institutions in Slovenia and Estonia, two countries that have been described as different varieties of capitalism or even Antipodes within Central and Eastern Europe. Slovenia has been unique in Central and Eastern Europe given highly centralised wage bargaining and the importance of corporatist institutions, notably the tripartite Economic and Social Council. The Slovenian experience could be viewed as an exception to the general pattern of weak unions and illusory corporatism across Central and Eastern Europe. By contrast, Estonia is commonly viewed as a prime example of a free market-oriented economy, in which industrial relations are decentralised and capitalist institutions can be characterised as neoliberal or approximating a liberal market economy. This paper analyses how these distinctive institutional configurations have shaped the two countries' responses to the Great Recession or the Global Economic Crisis beginning in 2007-8. It also explores whether these institutions have remained stable or undergone changes as a result of the crisis. The article also seeks to identify lessons from this experience for the future prospects of corporatism and tripartism in Slovenia, Estonia and also for the revitalisation of trade unions and progressive politics in Central and Eastern Europe more generally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-46
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Industrial Relations
Issue number1
Early online date14 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • industrial relations
  • economic policy
  • Great Recession
  • Estonia
  • Slovenia


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