Towards greater personalisation of active labour market policy? Britain and Germany compared
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Goerne, Rudolf Alexander
This PhD study centres on analysing the changing employment service portfolios available to disadvantaged people out of work in Britain and Germany. Looking at the recent wave of comparative studies on ‘activation’ reforms, it springs to mind that the question of the changing portfolio of ‘active’ labour market policy (ALMP) measures has received only little attention in the sense of a rigorous comparative analysis. In order to address that gap, this study develops a novel normative and analytical perspective for the study of ALMP, which then is applied to the empirical cases Britain and Germany. I first develop the concept of personalisation as the normative and analytical framework for the analysis of ALMP. I show that the diversity of ALMP portfolios, which is a precondition for a personalised service provision, can serve as a proxy for measuring personalisation. Equipped with this analytical tool, the analysis subsequently focuses on the changes to ALMP portfolios over the past 15 years in terms of diversity. It is shown that during this period both Britain and Germany reformed working-age benefits in a way that led to a closer integration of the benefit system at an institutional level. Taking the policy rhetoric that closer integration will lead to more ‘personalised’ (UK) or more ‘tailor-made’ (Germany) services as a starting point, I analyse whether these developments at an institutional level have indeed led to a more personalised, or more diverse, provision of employment services. This study looks in particular at the situation of those groups in the two countries who have been most affected by recent integration reforms. These have primarily been claimants of second-tier working-age benefits, namely incapacity related benefits in the UK, and ‘Sozialhilfe’ (SH, social assistance) and ‘Arbeitslosengeld II’ (ALGII, Unemployment Benefit II) in Germany. I find that in both countries, employment services for claimants of these second-tier benefits have become more diverse in the wake of the integration reforms of the past 10 to 15 years, thereby increasing their personalisation potential. However, the two countries have each followed very specific reform trajectories. While the volume and coverage of ALMP have increased in both countries, the portfolio of services for second-tier claimants today is much more diverse in Germany than in Britain. This is primarily due to the existence of a large volume of services directed at claimants more distant from the labour market that follow a social integration & employability approach. These services are more marginal in Britain, where measures that follow a work-first approach are dominant. This divergent development is indicative of major and persistent differences in terms of ideational context as well as institutional (operational) factors. New Public Management reforms have influenced operational policy to different degrees in the two countries, effectively limiting the diversity of employment services in Britain more than in Germany.