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Networks of Coordination: Swiss Business Associations as an Intermediary between Business, Politics and Administration during the 20th Century

  • Thomas David (a1), Stéphanie Ginalski (a2), André Mach (a1) and Frédéric Rebmann (a2)

Abstract

Until the 1990's, Switzerland could be classified as either a corporatist, cooperative or coordinated market economy where non-market mechanisms of coordination among economic and political actors were very important. In this respect, Business Interest Associations (BIAs) played a key role. The aim of this paper is to look at the historical evolution of the five main peak Swiss BIAs through network analysis for five assorted dates during the 20th century (1910, 1937, 1957, 1980 and 2000) while relying on a database that includes more than 12,000 people. First, we examine the logic of membership in these associations, which allows us to analyze their position and function within the network of the Swiss economic elite. Until the 1980's, BIAs took part in the emergence and consolidation of a closely meshed national network, which declined during the two last decades of the 20th century. Second, we investigate the logic of influence of these associations by looking at the links they maintained with the political and administrative worlds through their links to the political parties and Parliament, and to the administration via the extra-parliamentary commissions (corporatist bodies). In both cases, the recent dynamic of globalization called into question the traditional role of BIAs.

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