Since 1989, Germany's domestic and international environments have experienced significant changes. Thus, it is reasonable to expect that the country's long–standing foreign and domestic policies will adapt to novel challenges and pressures. This article examines the case of eastern trade policy, and area in which one might expect to observe a greater degree of government intervention post–unification. In fact, no such adaptation has taken place in the six years since the beginning of the unification process. This empirical puzzle lends itself to an analysis based on the interaction of interests, institutions, and ideas. Unification altered the prevailing constellation of material economic interests in Germany, as well as parliamentary–electoral institutions. However, the events of 1989–90 left untouched the dominant ideas (or models) that shaped the West German political economy in the postwar period, as well as crucial sets of institutions — some lodged within the federal bureaucracy and others at the international level — linked to those ideas. Drawing on a detailed case study, including extensive interviews with German and Russian policymakers, we conclude that the lack of an interventionist trade response is a function of continuity at the nexus of ideas and institutions in the unified German.
Working Paper 96–03, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, 1996.