Is There an Eastern Capitalism? Convergence or Divergence in Eastern Europe

  • Abstract:

    This paper uses the varieties of capitalism approach to explore the institutional infrastructure of the emergent post-communist capitalisms. It looks into property rights, welfare, market, and political economy institutions as dimensions against which to assess the emergent models of post-communist capitalisms.

    I advance research questions on whether we can hypothesize convergence or divergence in institutional infrastructure of the Eastern economies. Can we argue for an Eastern capitalism or are there more Eastern capitalisms? Are these economies inspired and driven by Europeanization or do they follow an American-inspired liberalization trend? Are there East-West, North-South divisions in the European political economies or the Eastern capitalisms tend to approximate a Western counterpart?

    To contribute to such a debate, I use comparative analysis to identify similarities and differences in the institutional arena of a selected group of Eastern and Western European economies. I argue that some institutional arenas, such as labor relations or social protection, are more prone to convergence than others, such as property or market institutions. Moreover, I identify a two-stage process of emulation: the early 90s rapid liberalization of markets, inspired by globalization actors is followed by a consistent process of EU-inspired institutional change. Finally, I add culture to the process of institutional reconstruction during transition and attempt to identify whether there is a core set of economic values characteristic of Eastern capitalisms and to what extent this approximates or departs from Western economic culture.