Working paper
The Difficult Organization of Business Interests. MEDEF and the Political Representation of French Firms
Cologne : Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
MPIfG Discussion Paper : 05/12
The national association of French employers and industry, MEDEF, seems to be an example of strong and unifi ed interest organization, especially since its reform in 1998. Through a study of the collective action of fi rms in France, this article sheds doubt on such an impression. In fact, a central employers’ and industry association only constituted itself in France in response to state and trade union activism and struggled throughout history once these external threats lost importance. Like all encompassing business associations, MEDEF comprises a great variety of groups of business actors and constantly has to manage its internal interest heterogeneity. An analysis of the historical and institutional context of its latest reform demonstrates that the recent media campaign should not be understood as a display of actual strength and coherence; rather it is the last resort of collective action that MEDEF can claim legitimately as its responsibility.