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How can governments communicate labour market reforms successfully?

Stefanie Henneke

Published by Shaker Verlag Mai 2011, 2011
ISBN 10: 3844000941 / ISBN 13: 9783844000948
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Bibliographic Details

Title: How can governments communicate labour ...

Publisher: Shaker Verlag Mai 2011

Publication Date: 2011

Binding: Taschenbuch

Book Condition: Neu


Neuware - The study addresses the question how governmental communication can contribute to generate public acceptance for welfare reforms and therefore support the implementation of reform policies. Particularly labour market reforms are very sensitive, due to a very large and heterogeneous target group and because transformations cause existential fears for the people concerned. Therefore, the communication of labour market reforms can be regarded as crucial cases and are very appropriate to answer the more general research question how can governments communicate reforms successfully. In order to address this question, it is operationalised by the following subquestions: What elements of strategic communication are relevant for good reform communication theoretically and empirically, and under which circumstances can governments apply these elements successfully After an overview of current literature in political and communication sciences about political and governmental communication, the relationship between the media and politics, and strategic communication, a framework for analysis is set up which declares the governmental communication strategy as dependent variable, the institutional and structural preconditions under which governments act form the strategic ability of a government, which is the independent variable and which defines a number of intervening variables, subsumed under the four headlines policies, language, addressees, and design and content. These theoretically derived criteria for good reform communication form the basis for the empirical study. Two cases of labour market reforms, both conducted by social democratic governments, and the governmental strategies to communicate these reforms are analysed empirically. On the one hand, the German reforms of the years 2002ff., named Agenda 2010 and Hartz reforms, are subject matters. Based on document analysis and expert interviews, the communication strategy is reconstructed. Moreover, it is considered in how far the derived criteria for good reform communication have been met. On the other hand, the German case is contrasted to the communication of the British New Deals reforms (1999ff.). Referring to the independent variable strategic ability, the British government should have much better preconditions to communicate successfully. At first glance, the study supports this hypothesis as the German government had much more difficulties to maintain its messages to the public, as a newspaper content analysis revealed. However, the British government had to deal with other problems. The perfect organisation of the communication strategy and the considerable influence of socalled spindoctors on political decisions caused skepticism and even mistrust among the population. Therefore, one conclusion of the study is that it is not sufficient to meet many criteria for good reform communication. Although the empirical results confirm the relevance of the framework developed in the study, particularly of the criteria for good reform communication (which can be summarised to a guideline for governments. although a very general and rather vague one) the German and the British case show that governments are able to develop good communication strategies in spite of institutional and structural constraints. Therefore, the conclusion is that it is necessary for governments to recognise one's own strengths and weaknesses in order to build upon them or to compensate for them consciously. By this, and by integrating some of the elements described as a guideline for governments in this study, governments and their communication departments can adjust to given circumstances and have considerable influence on developing high quality communication strategies and supporting the government work in this important way. 380 pp. Englisch. Bookseller Inventory # 9783844000948

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