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This paper investigates the impacts of globalization processes on the Swiss business elite community during the 1980–2010 period. Switzerland has been characterized in the…
This paper investigates the impacts of globalization processes on the Swiss business elite community during the 1980–2010 period. Switzerland has been characterized in the 20th century by its extraordinary stability and by the strong cohesion of its elite community. To study recent changes, we focus on Switzerland’s 110 largest firms’ by adopting a diachronic perspective based on three elite cohorts (1980, 2000, and 2010). An analysis of interlocking directorates allows us to describe the decline of the Swiss corporate network. The second analysis focuses on top managers’ profiles in terms of education, nationality as well as participation in national community networks that used to reinforce the cultural cohesion of the Swiss elite community, especially the militia army. Our results highlight a slow but profound transformation of top management profiles, characterized by a decline of traditional national elements of legitimacy and the emergence of new “global” elements. The diachronic and combined analysis brings into light the strong cultural changes experienced by the national business elite community.
Bourdieu’s construct of the field of power has received relatively little attention despite its novelty and theoretical potential. This paper explores the meaning and…
Bourdieu’s construct of the field of power has received relatively little attention despite its novelty and theoretical potential. This paper explores the meaning and implications of the construct, and integrates it into a wider conception of the formation and functioning of elites at the highest level in society. Drawing on an extensive dataset profiling the careers of members of the French business elite, it compares and contrasts those who enter the field of power with those who fail to qualify for membership, exploring why some succeed as hyper-agents while others do not. The alliance of social origin and educational attainment, class and meritocracy, emerges as particularly compelling. The field of power is shown to be relatively variegated and fluid, connecting agents from different life worlds. Methodologically, this paper connects biographical data of top French directors with the field of power in France in a novel way, while presenting an operationalization of Bourdieu’s concept of the field of power as applied to the French elite.
We argue that the United States has experienced a decline of economic, political, and military power since the 1970s, and that this decline can be attributed in part to…
We argue that the United States has experienced a decline of economic, political, and military power since the 1970s, and that this decline can be attributed in part to the fragmentation of the American corporate elite. In the mid-twentieth century, this elite – constrained by a highly legitimate state, a relatively powerful labor movement, and an active financial community – adopted a moderate and pragmatic strategy for dealing with the political issues of the day. The “enlightened self-interest” of corporate leaders contributed to a strong economy with a relatively low level of inequality and an expanding middle class. This arrangement broke down in the 1970s, however, as increasing foreign competition and two energy crises led to spiraling inflation and lower profits. In response, the corporate elite waged an aggressive (and ultimately successful) assault on government regulation and organized labor. This success had the paradoxical effect of undermining the elite’s own sources of cohesion, however. Having won the war against government and labor, the group no longer needed to be organized. The marginalization of the commercial banks and the acquisition wave of the 1980s exacerbated the fragmentation of the corporate elite. No longer able to act collectively by the 1990s, the corporate elite was now incapable of addressing issues of business and societal-wide concern. Although increasingly able to gain individual favors from the state, the elite’s collective weakness has contributed to the political gridlock and social decay that plague American society in the twenty-first century.
The purpose of this study is to explore some of the distinctive features of organizing and organization in France which set it apart from organization in other nations…
The purpose of this study is to explore some of the distinctive features of organizing and organization in France which set it apart from organization in other nations, and which are fundamental to its modus operandi. In particular, this article is concerned with elite connectivity and concerted action by elite “connectors”.
The research underpinning this article stems from a cross-national comparative project on business elites and corporate governance in France and the UK. This has three dimensions, being quantitative, qualitative and case study-based. Concerted action by the ruling elite is explored through two illustrative vignettes: the ousting from office of Jean-Marie Messier and State-sponsored expansion as pursued by EDF. Both examples shed light on the French business elite’s response to globalization and the development of international business.
The paper finds elite cohesion to be achieved quite differently in the two countries. In addition, it finds that the ties that bind French connectors tend to be strong and institutionally based.
The case of EDF suggests that the most ambitious of State-sponsored strategies can also be the most successful. It implies that elite ideologies in France have deviated relatively little from sentiments expressed by Rousseau and de Gaulle concerning the primacy of the national interest and the conviction that firms can serve as an (expansionist) instrument of the nation. The Messier case illuminates the pattern of close relationships among the French business elite. It demonstrates how a strategy of expansion may come unstuck when it is not grounded in the customary modes of business regulation.
This research confirms a slight preference on the part of the French business elite for more homogenous ties. Against this, the paper demonstrates that a significant proportion of the French elite act as boundary spanners, brokering relationships with others from more distant parts of the wider network. The integration of the French elite in the Eurozone has potentially favored bridge-building relationships and weakened national embeddedness. This may contribute to the decline of indigenous interlocks, while promoting the further internationalization of top management teams. The implications of this for organizational strategy, firm survival and economic performance form an agenda for future research.
In this study, we aim to understand how the relationship between state and business elites and underlying power dynamics develop in the face of neoliberalism and…
In this study, we aim to understand how the relationship between state and business elites and underlying power dynamics develop in the face of neoliberalism and globalization in a state-dependent context. For this purpose, we draw on a qualitative research with in-depth interviews with elites from 65 companies which are ranked among the 500 largest Turkish firms by the Istanbul Chamber of Industry. Major contribution of this work is that we illustrate how globalization or internationalization provides a limited tool for business elites to escape the domination of the state in a state-dependent context. The only exceptions to this rule of state domination among business elites are the elites who hold double citizenships and whose initial investment background is in a foreign country. This exceptional group of elites enjoyed higher latitude of action in their interactions with the state. For the rest, state remains as an influential mechanism of coercive power to which elites are subjected. Last but not least, in spite of the connections between business growth and the state, the business elites are generally distrustful of politics and politicians and this mistrust is manifested in different ways. Overall, we illustrate the significance of the historical context and turning points in accounting for the changing nature of the relationship between elites and the state in Turkey.
Historical and institutional influences on the backgrounds of business élites have received little attention despite the fact that they are closely related to corporate…
Historical and institutional influences on the backgrounds of business élites have received little attention despite the fact that they are closely related to corporate governance issues. The present study aims to examine the issue of continuity and change in the characteristics of the business élite over a period of some 60 years between 1923 and 1980 in Turkey, a late‐industrializing country, where significant changes have taken place in the politico‐economic environment of business and the context of industrial development has evolved from étatisme towards family‐dominated big business.
This paper attempts to substantiate the arguments on the institutional roots of business élite characteristics by drawing upon all previous studies conducted on Turkish business élites for the period 1923‐1980. For comparative purposes the study also makes reference to other élite groups in the country, namely, managers of state economic enterprise and upper echelons in the state bureaucracy.
Continuity and change in business élites seem to be closely related to alterations in the politico‐economic environment. For the “managerial” class, while business experience might have been most important in the early years of the republic, high‐level education has clearly been a pre‐condition in the latter period. High education level and political capital of “bureaucrat‐managers” may have eased one‐way flow of professionals from state to private sector, especially following the “ruralizing elections” in this state‐dependent context.
This paper thus especially aims to unravel the genesis and development of business professionals, a subgroup of business élites who have been neglected so far in Turkish management literature.
Several scholars have maintained that corporatist arrangements may contribute to a national consensus between groups with opposing interests (Katzenstein, 1985; Siaroff, 1999). Some have even described (neo) corporatism as a strategy for consensus building (Woldendorp, 1995). These general viewpoints seem to imply that participation in the various channels and networks in a corporatist system may influence participants to moderate their ideological attitudes, to become more centrist. Participation has a “civilising” effect. In a study of the Swedish industrial relations system Öberg and Svensson (2002) concluded, however, that there is not much trust across the class borders, a finding which questions the validity of these assumptions. It seems therefore appropriate to test these assumptions empirically in a variety of national settings.
There appears to be a recruitment process in which recruits tend to look at people much like themselves, proceed with an uncertain feel for what defines a desirable…
There appears to be a recruitment process in which recruits tend to look at people much like themselves, proceed with an uncertain feel for what defines a desirable candidate (while emphasising considerations of personal style over indicators of analytical‐technical competence), and concentrate efforts among those who have received a prestigious degree. Analysis of one American business school's recruiting procedures produces evidence that simply by being admitted to this school students ensure themselves of the opportunity to be considered for “fast track” positions in the corporate world, and, once entered into the contest, compete among themselves on the basis of their ability to convey a personal style in line with prevailing norns of “executive” behaviour at particular companies.
Theories concerning the recruitment of the political elite traditionally view the composition of parliament as a result of a multi-phased process, as a kind of an…
Theories concerning the recruitment of the political elite traditionally view the composition of parliament as a result of a multi-phased process, as a kind of an elimination race (Norris, 1997; cf. also Best & Cotta, 2000). In each phase, the candidates who best fulfil the demands of the gatekeepers are selected. Who is selected is the outcome of the interplay of the supply and demand factors, meaning that it depends on the characteristics of the candidates and the priorities of the gatekeepers. Comparative studies reveal that this process varies among countries, meaning that the composition of parliaments also varies. New institutionalism (Ostrom, 1986; Norris, 1997) accounts for this variation in terms of the differences in the national recruitment systems, which create differences in supply and demand.