The idea of wage restraint has a long history in the Netherlands and has been presented as the recipe for economic recovery
for many years now. In times of economic (and political) crisis, wage restraint has been the standard response of the Dutch
government, often in cooperation with unions and employers’ organisations. Wage restraint, so the argument runs, will lead
to economic and jobs growth by improving Dutch competitiveness and exports. The economic successes linked to the so-called
Dutch Polder Model of the second half of the 1990s seemed to prove this point: ever since agreeing on wage restraint in the
Accord of Wassenaar of 1982, the Netherlands has arguably performed rather well in international comparison. The Story behind
the Dutch Model analyses this prominent role of the idea of wage restraint in the Dutch Polder politics. Why do we always
talk about wage restraint? More specifically, the question is why wage restraint has been presented as the core of the Dutch
Model in the second half of the 1990s, and how a near-universal acceptance of this policy idea could develop over this period?
As will be demonstrated, the answer to this question is not as simple as the phrase ‘it is good for the Dutch economy’ suggests.
This book looks into more cultural en discursive mechanisms that might explain the recurrence of wage restraint in public
discourse. Wage restraint needs to be constantly negotiated about, constructed as ‘good and successful’ and legitimised by
the political actors supporting this policy strategy. Wage restraint therefore is not just an idea, but involves a whole story
on what is economically needed, politically feasible and considered a ‘normal’ outcome in society. This study is about this
story of wage restraint the Wage Restraint Storyline which constitutes the real story behind the Dutch Model.
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