To read this content please select one of the options below:

Happy ever after in the quasi-market place? The dowry logic of active labour policy in the Lombardy Region

Stefania Sabatinelli (DAStU, Dipartimento di Architettura e Studi Urbani, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy.)
Matteo Villa (Department of Political Science, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 12 October 2015




The dote system is the most recent and only way to finance and deliver services in the training and labour policy field in Lombardy (Italy), strengthening the regional quasi-market approach. The purpose of this paper is to analyse its logic and highlight the implications for the policy system.


Qualitative case-study including preliminary documentation, analysis of administrative data, in-depth interviews with stakeholders and practitioners.


The dote system is based on a strongly pre-structured and pure performance logic. It predefines forms, ways and steps towards people’s “autonomy”, further categorising the policy system and establishing a combination of individualisation without personalisation. The strict regulation makes it difficult to design accessible, high-quality and tailor-made interventions. Dote could represent an interesting innovation for high-profile measures, but as a universal equivalent it often fails to match the needs of people and the labour market.

Research limitations/implications

The self-funded research is limited to a regional context, analysed against the background of European welfare transformations. Greater effort in qualitative research could improve the knowledge about the implications of NPM and quasi-markets.

Practical implications

Regional centralism is strengthened; local authorities and private bodies are excluded from planning; freedom of choice is limited. A marriage of convenience between providers and users increases the level of stress and the dispersion of resources.


Dote is a particular experiment in the panorama of activation. It works in a unique way, impacting on governance and activation modes. The paper is addressed to researchers, practitioners and policy makers interested in gaining better understanding of the implications of quasi-markets and NPM.



Sabatinelli, S. and Villa, M. (2015), "Happy ever after in the quasi-market place? The dowry logic of active labour policy in the Lombardy Region", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 35 No. 11/12, pp. 812-827.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles