Firm Interests in Uncertain Times: Business Lobbying in Multilateral Service Liberalization
AbstractMany observers agree that the multilateral liberalization of service trade was a response to the intense lobbying efforts of financial service companies. In contrast, many of the firms that were affected by the General Agreement on the Trade of Services did not know where their interests lay in the multilateral negotiations and only began to work with their governments very late in the process. This paper shows that the preference evolution of service companies – both the first movers and the late comers – cannot be explained with reference to material rationality only. As a radically new trade issue, service trade was a realm of great uncertainty for business and they relied on social devices rather than pure economic calculations to determine how to position themselves on liberalization. In times of uncertainty, the differential logic of social embeddedness and the institutional constraints of a firm’s national setting are therefore a more appropriate indicator for business demands than material incentives arising from the global economy.
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Date of creation: Apr 2010
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Publication status: Published in Constructing the Political Economy, pp.137-154
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