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Chapter 3

UP - Chapter 3.pdf

Political Science
Course Code
POLS 3470
Tim Mau

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Chapter 3: Sources and Limits of Business Influence: Theories of Business-
Government Relations
Definitions are in bold
Changing atmosphere of economic and political systems through: dismantling nationalist
and protectionist policies, expansion of trade agreements
-has been largely applauded by corporate community
Firm-centred industry culture with emphasis on
-self sufficiency of individual businesses and the capacity of most business sectors to
function without direct state interference or support in the economic marketplace
-independence of management in making decisions on investment and workplace
organization as opposed to legislated provisions for union participation as in some
European countries
-limits on the institution of politics into economic decision making, even though the
legal framework for economic activity is frequently a by-product of political decisions
and trade-offs
-politicians seek power through ability to promote economic prosperity, giving business
position of privilege
Four concepts used to define and asses effectiveness of power inside and outside of
1. Outcome Manifestations: capacity of a political actor to affect or change political
outcomes and to impose one's policy preference on an otherwise unwilling political
system or prevent policy outcomes that conflict with one's own interest, even when
outcomes may have broad political support
-how autonomous is a particular group or individual in the policy making process?
Standbury outlines major expressions of political autonomy
- ability to initiate and have implemented on a regular basis policy actions that are
strongly opposed by other major policy players
-ability to obstruct or veto policies that have wide support
-groups ability to alter or reverse a well-established policy that works against their group
in particular, especially if it benefits other groups: usually done by changing the terms of
a policy debate, centre the debate around yourself
-ability to determine outcome of elections by shifting one's support for one party to
Examples of state autonomy (state acts in own interest, ignoring public) in Canada:
Mulroney forcing the GST despite 88% of Canadian's against it
Business challenges to governmental authority occur when governments retreat from
proposed policy change from business lobbying efforts; efforts have more effect than
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public opinion
example: tax reforms, failure to reform competition policies, some extent the National
Energy Program
-when policy making elites are divided, it is easier to sway opinion in favour of business
through mobilization of public opinion
2. Process manifestations: examines ways in which groups can use policy process to
serve their own interests in both competition and cooperation with other social or
governmental interests
-ability to influence policy making rests on following factors
-willingness of government to provide access to process
-ability of group to make themselves heard
-available resources (businesses use associations)
-willingness of government to take their suggestions into consideration
-timing, extent of their participation
-debate as to whether public's opinion is actually heard beyond symbolic gesture
-businesses have greater chance to be heard the larger their stake in policy outcome is
-few businesses have capacity to challenge interests unless they have the time, money to
excersise countervailing power
3. + 4. Structural power and Intellectual power: describe ways in which different
social groups, including business, can make their own interests central factors in defining
or redefining the public interest
Intellectual Power
-capacity to shift terms of public debate overtime so the adverse public opinion gradually
conforms to that of state; done through co-opting social actors, use of thinktanks,
advocacy groups
-countervailing power: appealing for public support for alternative policies that offer
potential benefits to a broader cross section of society or by undermining the credibility
of proposed changes through appeals to strongly held values
-negotiation of free trade with US example of governments trying to persuade public
opinion to accept position that is consistent with policy preference of business
Structural Power
-the capacity, over time, of a group to make their interests part of the normal environment
of political, economic and social systems, therefore reinforcing certain views while
suppressing others
-helps when government lacks popular support to foster alternative approaches
-considered to be democratic if it also benefits majority of citizens
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