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Inhaltsbereich: Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung

Chances and limitations of "benchmarking" in the reform of welfare state structures



"Learning from abroad is seen as an instrument to identify 'best practice' and to provide innovative and more effective policy options for domestic policy-makers. This paper seeks to address the question whether learning from other countries enhances the scope of policy transfer across welfare states and promotes the development of effective social policy responses. More specifically, it seeks to clarify whether and under which conditions the concept of benchmarking can play an important role in welfare state reforms. In the first section I will briefly portray the driving forces behind the rapid expansion of efforts of national policy-makers to learn from other countries. The second section provides a theoretical reflection over the potential significance of benchmarking as a causal factor for welfare state developments and highlights the numerous barriers to the transfer of 'best practice' from one political setting into another one. Against this background, section three discusses the potential and the limitations of the so-called 'Method of open coordination' (OMC). This method, which is seen both as a cognitive and as a normative tool, has established a new mode of EU governance that may enhance the scope for policy learning and policy transfer. As an iterative, multi-level and multi-actor process of policy learning based on a broad range of comparable quantitative indicators the OMC constitutes a new quality of contextualized benchmarking. As such it may provide domestic policy makers in favor of reform with empirically based arguments for the necessity and feasibility of policy change. Finally, I will make a few suggestions on how the open method of coordination can be anchored more firmly in domestic policy formation." (Author's abstract, IAB-Doku) ((en))


Bibliographical information

Schludi, Martin (2003): Chances and limitations of "benchmarking" in the reform of welfare state structures * the case of pension policy. (AIAS working paper, 10), Amsterdam, 55 p.