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We pursue a comparative analysis of employers’ age management practices in Britain and Germany, asking how valid ‘convergence’ and ‘Varieties of Capitalism’ theories are. After rejecting the convergence verdict, we proceed to ask how far ‘path dependence’ helps explain inter-country differences. Through 19 interviews with British and German experts, we find that firms have reacted in different ways to promptings from the EU and the two states. Change has been modest and a rhetoric-reality gap exists in firms as they seek to hedge. We point to continuities in German institutional methods of developing new initiatives, and the emerging role of British NGOs in helping firms and the state develop new options. We argue that ‘path dependence’ offers insight into the national comparison, but also advance the idea of national modes of firm option-exploration as an important way of conceptualizing the processes involved.

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Journal Article

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