Explaining the dominance of legacy unions in new democracies: Comparative insights from Indonesia

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27 Scopus citations


The continued dominance of legacy unions-state-backed unions inherited from the previous nondemocratic regime-has received little scholarly scrutiny. Through an analysis of Indonesia, this article presents a focused theoretical framework for analyzing the staying power of legacy unions and the strategies they pursue to maintain their dominance. The author argues that the capacity of legacy unions to survive is a product of inherited advantages (membership, institutional, and legal) and the transition context (economic conditions, union competition, and partisan links). Legacy unions adopt three strategies for survival-carrots, sticks, and reform-and pursue a strategy of reform only when they retain meager inherited advantages and face an unfavorable transition context. The article also offers suggestions for additional research to further develop the theoretical framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1371-1397
Number of pages27
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2008

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Comparative labor politics
  • Democratization
  • Indonesia
  • Labor unions


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