Kaspar Pajos

Title: 'Varieties of Capitalism in Industrialized Estonia 1870-2016'

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Rainer Kattel

Opponent: Prof. Dr. Lars Mjoset

Defense: 2 September 2016


Abstract: This thesis gives a historical overview of the development trajectories of capitalism in industrialized Estonia. While according to several publications from the varieties of capitalism (VoC) approach, Estonia is often classified as a relatively pure liberal market economy; historical research suggests that this has not always been the case. To date, studies placing the Estonian case into the VoC framework have lacked historical perspective and overlooked its past developments across various time periods. As the current thesis is looking to analyze the long-term trajectories of institutional change, it aims to fill a gap in this research area. The theoretical framework interrelates comparative capitalisms literature with historical institutionalism to analyze the long-term trajectories of institutional change and highlight the critical junctures that altered these trajectories. The theses adopts a case study design and utilizes both quantitative and qualitative secondary sources. Its primary finding is that Estonian capitalism appears to be very diverse across different time periods. In particular, it appears that the transition from the Czarist Empire to independent statehood was much more gradual than subsequent transitions to and from the Soviet regime. From individual institutional domains, financial systems and corporate governance appear to be more stable over time compared to industrial relations, education, welfare and industrial policy. The thesis concludes by highlighting some more general inherent characteristics of Estonian capitalism, which are its relative openness towards foreign markets, investments and financing; diverse elites across various time periods; high level of education and disproportionately modest role of the labor movement.

Keywords: Comparative capitalisms, critical junctures, Estonia, historical institutionalism, varieties of capitalism.