In this thesis I conduct a comparative analysis of the influence of socioeconomic actors, business and labor, on public policy in Germany and the United States, specifically public policy that has an impact on economic inequality. The objective of this study is to gain a better understanding of how institutional constructs may determine the level of influence by different socioeconomic actors on public policy. In particular, I examine the link between institutional design and economic inequality, specifically the relative influence of business interests in varying types of capitalist economies and democratic systems, and assess those facets of institutional design that may facilitate the channeling of business influence in policy making. I explore institutional changes in the German political and economic system beginning in the late 1980s to determine whether these changes have altered the policy making process over time, and analyze similarities with institutional changes that have taken place in the United States beginning in the late 1970s to present. Further, I examine whether shifts in institutional design indicate that the German system is transitioning towards a more liberal model similar to that of the United States, and consider what effects this may have on the level of economic inequality in Germany. To conduct my analysis I use the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework; based on the IAD framework I create a conceptual map of the channels by which socioeconomic actors are involved in the policy making process. I evaluate the policy-making process in both formal and informal policy arenas. The policy areas analyzed include corporate governance, industrial relations, and tax, welfare and minimum wage policy during the selected time periods. The analysis shows that the institutional designs that produced the selected policies benefit business interests and may contribute towards economic inequality. The larger goal is to develop research that will build a theoretical foundation to help us identify how these systems may be improved to produce a more equitable allocation of economic resources.


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Thesis Completion





Kinsey, Barbara


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Sciences


Political Science


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis