Abstract: Scholarship on varieties of capitalism (VofC) explores the ways in which the institutions structuring the political economy affect patterns of economic performance or policy making and the distribution of well-being. Contesting the claim that there is one best route to superior economic performance, a number of schemas have been proposed to explain why countries have often been able to secure substantial rates of growth in different ways, often with relatively egalitarian distributions of income. Prominent among them is a VofC analysis focused on the developed democracies that distinguishes liberal and coordinated market economies according to the ways in which firms coordinate their endeavors. On the basis of institutional complementarities among subspheres of the political economy, it suggests that the institutional structure of the political economy confers comparative institutional advantages, notably for radical and incremental innovation, which explains why economies have not converged in the context of globalization. Although this framework is contested, it has inspired new research on many subjects, including the basis for innovation, the determinants of social policy, the grounds for international negotiation, and the character of institutional change. In this issue area, there is promising terrain for further research into the origins of varieties of capitalism, the factors that drive institutional change in the political economy, how institutional arrangements in the subspheres of the political economy interact with one another, the normative underlay for capitalism, and the effects of varieties of capitalism on multiple dimensions of well-being.
... read more