[Excerpt] Because it is impossible in one book to examine all German institutions of negotiation, this book focuses on one important set of relations at the heart of social market regulation: the "social partnership" between labor and management. "Social partnership," a term widely used throughout the European Union but little known in the United States, refers to the nexus—and central political and economic importance—of bargaining relationships between strongly organized employers (in employer associations) and employees (in unions and works councils) that range from comprehensive collective bargaining and plant-level codetermination to vocational training and federal, state, and local economic policy discussions.
To some extent, I use "social partnership" in this book to represent other, parallel processes of regularized negotiation throughout the German political economy. From the perspective of economic citizenship and democratic participation, however, social partnership itself is the most critical of social market mechanisms of negotiation and inclusion. And what is most remarkable, social partnership has not only coexisted with but proactively facilitated the strong export-oriented economic performance of the Federal Republic of Germany ever since its founding in 1949.