The Rodrik Trilemma and the Dahrendorf Quandary: An Empirical Assessment

In this paper, Helmut Anheier and Alex Filip analyse and compare the Rodrik Trilemma and the Dahrendorf Quandary. Each model consists of three objectives for nation states, of which only two can be achieved at once.

Rodrik’s Trilemma rests on the incompatibility of democracy, national sovereignty and global economic integration: any two can be combined, but never all three simultaneously and in full. Addressing the same problématique, Dahrendorf´s Quandary posits that, over time, maintaining global economic competitiveness requires countries either to adopt measures detrimental to the cohesion of civil society, or to restrict civil liberties and political participation. The purpose of this paper is to examine the empirical foundations of Rodrik’s and Dahrendorf’s propositions.

In doing so, Anheier and Filip assess developed market economies from 1991 to 2014, concluding that in rare cases, the Trilemma can be overcome, and that the tensions the Quandary implies can build up to a significant extent. In most cases, however, the performance of the countries examined here is too varied to support the broad claims Rodrik and Dahrendorf put forth in their respective writings.

 Download the working paper here.

Keywords: Globalisation, Democracy, Sovereignty, Economic Integration, Social Cohesion

Helmut K. Anheier is Professor of Sociology, past President of the Hertie School of Governance, and on the faculty at the Luskin School of Public Affairs, UCLA.

Alexandru Filip is a scholar of European Integration and former Dahrendorf Postdoctoral Fellow at the Hertie School in Berlin.