Cold war isomorphism: Communist regimes and the West European model of worker participation

In studies of cultural globalisation, the influence of communist regimes on Western Europe has remained under-theorised and little explored. Addressing this gap in research, this article puts forward the glocalisation grid of world-polity theory as a means for conceptualising and investigating how East European communist regimes helped shape the evolution of West European welfare states during the Cold War. The article re-traces the 1960s struggle over expert discourse within the International Labour Organization (ILO) in which communist regimes, including Yugoslavia and Poland, struggled to win the bureaucratic legitimacy of the ILO for their domestic policies. In focus are vertical, horizontal and temporal dimensions of glocalisation and the ensuing perceived or superficial similarity – so-called isomorphism – of legislation on worker participation in decision-making at the workplace. The article maps the timing of reforms across Europe, showing how East European reforms preceded and were co-constitutive to a pan-European process of policy isomorphism.