The Cadario Visiting Lecture in Public Policy

Employer Organization and the Law: Historical Legacies and the Long Shadow of the American Courts

March 2, 2021 | 3:00PM - 4:30PM
Munk School

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A strong and well-organized labor movement is clearly essential to achieving high levels of economic equality and shared prosperity in post-industrial political economies. However, a large comparative literature suggests that durable progress is possible only where employers too are well organized. Based on a comparison with Germany, this paper suggests that interventions by the American courts in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had a profound and enduring impact on the organization, goals, and strategies of American employers – discouraging and indeed actively disarticulating forms of business organization that were emerging in this period in Europe’s more coordinated “social” market economies.

About the Speaker:

Kathleen Thelen is Ford Professor of Political Science at MIT. Her work focuses on the origins and evolution of political-economic institutions in the rich democracies. She is the author, among others, of Varieties of Liberalization and the New Politics of Social Solidarity (2014) and How Institutions Evolve (2004), and co-editor of Advances in Comparative Historical Analysis (with James Mahoney, 2015), and Beyond Continuity (with Wolfgang Streeck, 2005). Her awards include the Aaron Wildavsky Enduring Contribution Prize (2019); the Michael Endres Research Prize (2019), the Barrington Moore Book Prize (2015), the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award of the APSR (2005), the Mattei Dogan Award for Comparative Research (2006), and the Max Planck Research Award (2003). She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2015 and to the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences in 2009. She was awarded honorary degrees at the Free University of Amsterdam (2013), the London School of Economics (2017), the European University Institute in Florence (2018), and the University of Copenhagen (2018). Thelen has served as President of the American Political Science Association (APSA), Chair of the Council for European Studies and as President of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics. Thelen is General Editor, along with Eric Wibbels, of the Cambridge University Press Series in Comparative Politics, and a permanent external member of the Max Planck Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung in Cologne, Germany.

The Cadario Visiting Lecture in Public Policy was established through the extraordinary generosity of Paul Cadario, Distinguished Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy.

Munk School


Kathleen Thelen

Ford Professor of Political Science, MIT

Peter Loewen

Associate Director, Global Engagement
Professor, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and the Department of Political Science, University of Toronto

Carolyn Tuohy

Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Distinguished Fellow
Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto