[Excerpt] This book addresses two central and related sets of questions. First, what type of political economy is emerging in unified Germany? How "West German" is it? Is Germany permanently polarized into East and West or converging on a single, integrated political economy? To what extent is the "coordinated market economy" (Soskice 1991) becoming less, or differently, coordinated? The answers to these questions will affect the outcomes of issues ranging from policy and politics to production organization.
Second, what has happened to the famous German "social partnership" since unification? Do the employer offensives of 1993-1996 in the pattern-setting metal and electronics industries, and in other industries as well, indicate a serious hollowing out or simply a readjustment of the social partnership? What has happened to employer associations and unions since German unification? What will happen to them in the near future? Can German industry hold its own in increasingly competitive world markets with its social partnership relations intact, or is this an outdated and expensive model of the past? Can the social partnership survive decentralization and lean production, or will they undermine and eventually dissolve it?