The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book State, Labor, and the Transition to a Market Economy

State, Labor, and the Transition to a Market Economy

Egypt, Poland, Mexico, and the Czech Republic Agnieszka Paczyńska
  • Copyright: 2009
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 288 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-03436-2
“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.”
“In this ambitious and innovative study, Paczyńska draws upon an unusual pairing of very different countries—Poland and Egypt, Mexico and the Czech Republic—to produce an important addition to the comparative literature on organized labor and market reform.”

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.

Agnieszka Paczyńska is Associate Professor at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University.


List of Tables


List of Abbreviations


1 Parties, Unions, and Economic Reforms

2 Ruling Parties, Organized Labor, and Transitions to Democracy: Poland and Czechoslovakia

3 Ruling Parties, Organized Labor, and Continued Authoritarianism: Egypt and Mexico

4 Labor and Privatization in Poland

5 Labor and Privatization in Egypt

6 Labor and Privatization in the Czech Republic and Mexico




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