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5.10 Program for the Study of Germany and Europe

The Dilemmas of Diffusion: Institutional Transfer & the Remaking of Vocational Training Practices in Eastern Germany

1995 – Richard Locke and Wade Jacoby


Through a case study of the diffusion of the celebrated West Gennan "dual system" of vocational training to the territory of the fonner German Democratic Republic, we develop the argument that local sociopolitical relations matter crucially for the successful transfer and implementation of institutional arrangements. Notwithstanding massive levels of government funding, the presence of complementary supports, and the concerted efforts of Ger­many's social partners, the dual system is experiencing significant difficulties in the new federal states of the East.

These difficulties are not due simply to the particular politics of unification (the wholesale transfer of West German institutions whether or not they were appropriate to Eastern Germany) nor even simply to the paucity of dynamic private firms capable of and willing to train new apprentices. The difficulties stem also from the under­ lying weaknesses of the East German sociopolitical infrastructure on which the entire dual system rests. This. hy­ pothesis is elaborated and substantiated through a range of data on training in the East and especially through the use of detailed case studies of Leipzig and Chemrutz.