National Business Associations under Stress: Lessons from the French Case
West European Politics
GB : Routledge
489 - 512 p.
Since its reform in 1998, the national association of French employers and industry, MEDEF, appears to be an example of strong interest organisation. Unlike trade unions, the peak business organisation has been stable and unified, especially in terms of membership density. Through a study of the collective action of businesses in France, this article sheds doubt on such an impression and argues that the national business association has been put severely under stress in recent years. Like all encompassing associations, MEDEF comprises a great variety of interests and constantly has to manage its internal heterogeneity. An analysis of the historical and institutional context of its recent reform demonstrates that MEDEF's forceful media campaign should not be understood as a display of actual strength and coherence; rather it is the last resort of collective action that the association can claim legitimately as its responsibility.