Business and Politics

Business and Politics: A Study of Collective Action

Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 352
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Business and Politics
    Book Description:

    Based on a survey of all national business associations, and interviews with many interest-group executives, Business and Politics outlines the wide variety of roles assumed by interest groups in the Canadian policy process. Coleman argues that the present fragmention of business interests makes consultation with major socio-economic producer groups highly unlikely. Instead, adjustment takes place as a series of ad hoc bailouts related to an electoral calculus rather than to a more reflective consideration of the longer-term evolution of the Canadian economy and the relative economic position of Canadians. As there are no organizations that prompt business to take a broad look at its responsibilities to society at large, some economic policy options that political leaders might want to consider are ruled out. Attempts to redress difficulties in the Canadian economy and social welfare system consequently suffer.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6163-2
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    • CHAPTER ONE The Political Responsibility of Business
      (pp. 3-16)

      The concept of responsibility has played an important role in Canadian politics since the late eighteenth century. Many of the early political struggles in the British North American colonies were overresponsiblegovernment – the principle that those people who allocated and spent the revenues garnered by the state should be held responsible by and to those who supplied the revenues, the electorate or its representatives. In addition, inherent in the Canadian constitution is the notion of ministerial responsibility – ministers in her majesty’s government are responsible for those decisions made in their names. When the decisions are bad ones...

    • CHAPTER TWO An Overview of Business Associations
      (pp. 17-46)

      Jack Walker notes the paucity of systematic global research on interest group systems: “Most descriptive accounts deal either with the history of a small group, or more often, with small clusters of groups in a single policy area. There are almost no comprehensive descriptions of the world of interest groups in America at any historical period.”¹ Similarly, Paul Pross writes about the apparent proliferation “of pressure groups” in Canada in the past 20 years and regrets the scarcity of hard data.²

      Walker notes the exception in both the Canadian and American cases – the work of Robert Presthus,³ who took...

    • CHAPTER THREE Framework for Analysis
      (pp. 47-65)

      Political science research on interest groups is now de-emphasizing their pressure or lobbying activities. Groups not only pressure governments from outside but also participate in formulating and even implementing public policy. The importance of these activities was noted in the 1960s by some American pressure group theorists following case studies of American business associations.¹ The idea of groups participating formally in policy-making has been central to the literature on corporate pluralism that developed in Scandinavia following an article by Stein Rokkan in 1966.² Middlemas has used the term “governing institutions” to describe the policy participation of peak interest groups in...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Policy Networks and Associative Action
      (pp. 66-78)

      The study of business-government relations has been pulled into a maelstrom of theoretical debate, critique, and counter-critique over the past two decades. The storm began with an outburst against the well-established pluralist theory by American social scientists who had become impressed by the private power of business elites and business associations. The heavens opened further in the mid-1970s when the developing concept of corporatism added a new set of questions to those already posed by elite theorists. Corporatism’s return to grace gave way to a rigorous theoretical critique and the unyielding test of empirical investigation. The criticisms of corporatism had...

    • CHAPTER FIVE General Business Associations
      (pp. 81-99)

      For many Canadians, including opinion leaders and even many business people, most of the associations referred to in chapter 2 have never before come to their attention. These associations are familiar to firms active in the sector concerned, to selected politicians and government officials, and to writers in the business press. In most municipalities, people point to the local chamber of commerce when asked which organizations represent the business community. This familiarity fosters recognition of provincial chambers of commerce in the provincial capitals and of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Ottawa. When television stations and newspaper reporters look for...

    • CHAPTER SIX Agriculture and Corporatism
      (pp. 100-122)

      Save for the cod fishery and the fur trade, agriculture is Canada’s oldest industry. It became the sustaining force in Quebec’s economy after the Conquest and was Ontario’s leading export sector until well after Confederation. Even today, the food industry is the largest single manufacturing sector in Quebec’s economy and one of the largest in Ontario’s. The grains and livestock industries have been leading sectors in the economies of the prairie provinces since the late nineteenth century. Canada is a major trading country, and close to 10 per cent of its exports are agricultural products.

      Speaking for this large agricultural...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Construction
      (pp. 123-143)

      The construction entrepreneur, at first glance, appears an unlikely association member. His business is risky. Work begins with a flourish in the spring when tradesmen have to be found, equipment leased, bids made, and sub-contractors attended to. Getting started in the field often requires little capital, creating an industry usually crowded with competitors. To use common parlance, it is a “dog eat dog” world, with seemingly little time left for attending association meetings. Yet associations abound in this division of the economy that accounts for billions of dollars of economic output and employs hundreds of thousands of workers. Not only...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Resources: Forestry and Mining
      (pp. 144-171)

      Similar to agriculture, Canada’s resource industries – forestry, fishing, mining, petroleum, and natural gas production – are fundamental blocks in its economic base. Each contributes on average to the positive side of Canada’s international balance of payments and has important backward and forward spread effects in secondary manufacturing. For example, the forest industry, arguably the most important of these, is responsible for 15 per cent of all value added in Canadian manufacturing, fills one railroad car out of five with its products, employs directly 300,000 people, and produces more newsprint than any other country in the world.¹ Exports of crude...

    • CHAPTER NINE Finance: Clientelism and Self-Regulation
      (pp. 172-192)

      Writing in the mid-1980s about business-government relations in the Canadian financial industry is a delicate enterprise. The financial sector world-wide has undergone sweeping changes over the past decade, and Canada has not been spared. When coupled with the recent deep recession, these changes have contributed to some casualties in the industry. Small, regional banks and trust companies, which sought to establish themselves on the basis of similarly small and risky business loans, have had immense difficulties keeping afloat. In fact, Canada has experienced its first two bank failures since the demise of the Home Bank in 1923 – the Canadian...

    • CHAPTER TEN Manufacturing: A Divided Community
      (pp. 193-216)

      The institutional structures of national economies vary considerably among the developed states. No economy approximates the mythical ideal of balanced, self-sufficient economic development across all divisions – primary resources and agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and utilities, construction, and financial services. Specialization occurs: the United States and Japan are the most advanced technological centres, West Germany is strong in heavy industry, England and Switzerland have financial services, and Canada, the United States, and Australia are agricultural surplus centres.¹ The Canadian economy sees faster capital accumulation in raw materials production and in transportaion and utilities than in manufacturing.² Canadian manufacturing is stronger in...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Fragmentation: Two Foreign Comparisons
      (pp. 219-237)

      A review of the previous six chapters suggests that it is incorrect to speak of a single business community in Canada. There is rather a series of autonomous communities, joined often only by the tenuous ties of large conglomerate firms. Fragmentation begins at the top, where we found no overarching peak associations but a series of competing, sometimes influential lobby groups. This picture was mirrored below in various divisions of the economy. Patterns of organization varied significantly from one division to another – hierarchical, somewhat integrated associational systems in agriculture and the forest industries; flat, highly differentiated, unintegrated systems in...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE State Institutions and Business Associations
      (pp. 238-260)

      My examination of the Canadian state so far has been confined to a series of snapshots of particular components as they relate to different divisions of the economy. Yet not only the patterns of relations between state agencies and civil society vary, but so do the very institutional forms of the state across a range of countries. This chapter investigates whether two basic institutions of Canadian government, federalism and a British parliamentary tradition, are important contributing factors to the fragmentation of business interests in Canada found in earlier chapters.

      With respect to federalism, the argument suggesting that it fosters fragmentation...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Business and Democracy
      (pp. 261-286)

      Capitalists possess ambivalent feelings about democracy. On the one side, democratic politics provides the mechanism for divorcing the role of entrepreneur, profit-maker, and employer from that of political decision-maker. The logic of the interaction between a market economy and liberal democracy produces, by definition, a privileged position for business.¹ On the surface, business can appear to be one group among many, when, in practice, it is often the only group that is consulted and whose interests are considered. On the other side, capitalists have a small number of votes. The danger always exists that the majority may overcome its divisions,...

  8. APPENDIX: Association Domains, 1867–1980
    (pp. 287-292)
  9. Notes
    (pp. 293-328)
  10. Index
    (pp. 329-336)