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Firm Interests in Uncertain Times: Business Lobbying in Multilateral Service Liberalization

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  • Cornelia Woll

    (Centre d'études et de recherches internationales)

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    Abstract

    Many 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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    File URL: http://spire.sciencespo.fr/hdl:/2441/f5vtl5h9a73d5ls976m3igpqi/resources/woll-uncertainty-cornell-2010.pdf
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    Paper provided by Sciences Po in its series Sciences Po publications with number info:hdl:2441/f5vtl5h9a73d5ls976m3igpqi.

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    Date of creation: Apr 2010
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    Publication status: Published in Constructing the Political Economy, pp.137-154
    Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/f5vtl5h9a73d5ls976m3igpqi

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    1. William N. Butos & Roger G. Koppl, 1995. "The Varieties of Subjectivism: Keynes and Hayek on Expectations," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 9505001, EconWPA, revised 17 May 1995.
    2. von Hayek, Friedrich August, 1989. "The Pretence of Knowledge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(6), pages 3-7, December.
    3. Donald MacKenzie, 2006. "An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262134608, December.
    4. Drake, William J. & Nicolaïdis, Kalypso, 1992. "Ideas, interests, and institutionalization: “trade in services” and the Uruguay Round," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(01), pages 37-100, December.
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