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Explaining Policy Transfer Mechanisms in Small European Countries: The Case of Telecommunication Reform


Häusermann, S; Mach, A; Papadopoulos, Y (2004). Explaining Policy Transfer Mechanisms in Small European Countries: The Case of Telecommunication Reform. In: Levi-Faur, D; Vigoda, E. International Public Policy and Management: Policy Learning beyond Regional, Cultural and Political Boundaries. New York: Marcel Dekker / Taylor & Francis, --43pp.

Abstract

In David Levi-Faur and Eran Vigoda (eds.). International Public Policy and Management: Policy Learning beyond Regional, Cultural and Political Boundaries. Marcel Dekker.

In a context of rapid technological innovation and of global economic pressures, European countries have all profoundly restructured their telecom sectors during the last decade. The Netherlands, Austria as well as Switzerland, although not a EU-member, have reformed their telecom sector just before the coming into force of the EU directives on telecom liberalization in January 1998. The comparison of the domestic reform processes in these three countries is particularly interesting, because they combine a different relation to the EU with the existence of similar domestic political structures, such as corporatist institutions and large government coalitions. Despite similar results in the content of the reforms in the three countries, we observe important differences in the mechanisms of Europeanization, which cannot be explained by EU (non-)membership. Rather, these differences originate in the distinction made by Katzenstein (1985) between a social and a liberal version of democratic corporatism in small European countries. The policy transfer mechanisms and the “learning capacity” of each country in a context of profound external changes are thus largely dependent on the domestic economic and political structures.
In the liberal countries (the Netherlands and Switzerland), adaptation to EU-regulations can mainly be explained by domestic pressure emanating from economic actors who were in favor of telecom liberalization and by the emergence of new norm entrepreneurs in the national administration. In these countries, economic, political and administrative elites were much more receptive for telecommunication liberalization, an issue which was already put on the political agenda in the first half of the 1980s, quite independently from the European evolution. Moreover, the national operators in both countries developed an international strategy in the early 1990s through their participation in Unisource (an alliance of different national telecom companies) to expand their activities abroad. Similarly, the national administrations were involved in different formal and informal international bodies active on telecom issues, which contributed to their role as policy entrepreneurs at the domestic level. Nevertheless, the extensive EU legislation as well as the EU-agenda played a central role mostly in the timing of the reforms of telecommunication legislation in both countries. By contrast, in Austria representing a social version of democratic corporatism, the relative closure of the national economy and the tight relations between the political authorities and the national telecom operator prevented the early start of a “learning process”. It is only with the adoption of the European Economic Area Treaty and the adhesion to the EU in 1994, that telecom liberalization became a major issue. Hence, because of the lack of domestic support for liberalization, “external coercion” was much more important, and the European Commission came to play a decisive role in the reform process.

In David Levi-Faur and Eran Vigoda (eds.). International Public Policy and Management: Policy Learning beyond Regional, Cultural and Political Boundaries. Marcel Dekker.

In a context of rapid technological innovation and of global economic pressures, European countries have all profoundly restructured their telecom sectors during the last decade. The Netherlands, Austria as well as Switzerland, although not a EU-member, have reformed their telecom sector just before the coming into force of the EU directives on telecom liberalization in January 1998. The comparison of the domestic reform processes in these three countries is particularly interesting, because they combine a different relation to the EU with the existence of similar domestic political structures, such as corporatist institutions and large government coalitions. Despite similar results in the content of the reforms in the three countries, we observe important differences in the mechanisms of Europeanization, which cannot be explained by EU (non-)membership. Rather, these differences originate in the distinction made by Katzenstein (1985) between a social and a liberal version of democratic corporatism in small European countries. The policy transfer mechanisms and the “learning capacity” of each country in a context of profound external changes are thus largely dependent on the domestic economic and political structures.
In the liberal countries (the Netherlands and Switzerland), adaptation to EU-regulations can mainly be explained by domestic pressure emanating from economic actors who were in favor of telecom liberalization and by the emergence of new norm entrepreneurs in the national administration. In these countries, economic, political and administrative elites were much more receptive for telecommunication liberalization, an issue which was already put on the political agenda in the first half of the 1980s, quite independently from the European evolution. Moreover, the national operators in both countries developed an international strategy in the early 1990s through their participation in Unisource (an alliance of different national telecom companies) to expand their activities abroad. Similarly, the national administrations were involved in different formal and informal international bodies active on telecom issues, which contributed to their role as policy entrepreneurs at the domestic level. Nevertheless, the extensive EU legislation as well as the EU-agenda played a central role mostly in the timing of the reforms of telecommunication legislation in both countries. By contrast, in Austria representing a social version of democratic corporatism, the relative closure of the national economy and the tight relations between the political authorities and the national telecom operator prevented the early start of a “learning process”. It is only with the adoption of the European Economic Area Treaty and the adhesion to the EU in 1994, that telecom liberalization became a major issue. Hence, because of the lack of domestic support for liberalization, “external coercion” was much more important, and the European Commission came to play a decisive role in the reform process.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, not refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Language:English
Date:2004
Deposited On:24 Mar 2009 12:38
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:28
Publisher:Marcel Dekker / Taylor & Francis
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-3980

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