State traditions in institutional reform : a case study of French and German telephone policy debates from 1876 until 1997
This thesis tests the claim that national differences in sectoral state traditions diminish over time. The case study covers telephone policy debates in France and Germany in five time periods from 1876 until 1997: the 'consolidation phase' (1876 - 1900); the 1920s; the post-Second World War years; the debates leading up to corporatisation in the 1980s; and the debates around opening for full competition in the 1990s. The analytical framework is founded in writings on state traditions and on the role of ideas and discourse in policymaking. The study's object of investigation, 'sectoral state traditions', is developed to allow for comparison both longitudinally within one country and cross-nationally. It comprises the notion of authority and of who should be the relevant actors in the policy process; public ethos of sectoral policies; and criteria for legitimate decision-making procedures and discourse. Central concepts and ideas in public debates are identified in both countries for each period. The investigation of public political debates (parliamentary debates, governmental and other public documents, and newspaper articles) in each country shows that sectoral state traditions were highly resistant to change. Cross-national comparison further corroborates the persistence of the two sectoral state traditions, which, despite common external factors (technology, international cooperation, supranational legislation), showed little or no convergence. The set of actors perceived as relevant to policymaking remained largely stable throughout the period under investigation. The French ethos of "service public', and the German ethos of efficient infrastructure provision, remained central. Criteria for decision-making and discourse altered in France in the late 1980s, whereas they remained stable in Germany. Evidence therefore does not support a hypothesis of convergence between the two sectoral state traditions.