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Explaining the Membership of Voluntary Local Business Associations: The Example of British Chambers of Commerce


  • Robert J. Bennett


BENNETT R. J. (1998) Explaining the membership of voluntary local business associations: the example of British Chambers of Commerce, Reg. Studies 32, 503-514. This paper presents an analytical model which seeks to explain the size of Chamber of Commerce membership and the depth of market penetration. This model is applied to British Chambers of Commerce which are a largely voluntary system of private law bodies. The model demonstrates high explanatory power for the size of Chamber membership, particularly arising from the service levels and size of potential market (number of potential business members). The model of market penetration is less satisfactory in terms of variance explained, but demonstrates the importance of the same explanatory variables. The models also confirm the importance of differentiating two different, but overlapping, types of Chamber in a voluntary system. Large Chambers, those 'approved' as quality service providers by the national Association of British Chambers Commerce (ABCC), have little significant influence on them from the geographical size of their catchment, although they do receive benefit from a relatively more concentrated location of businesses within their catchment. Small (and non-approved) Chambers, however, are strongly influenced by geographical area and cannot sustain high market penetration except over small areas. An area of about 1,000 km 2 is found to be a rough maximum for small Chamber development. The results are used to confirm that Olson's conjectures on the logic of collective action are limited to small geographical areas. Implications are also drawn for ABCC and government policy

Suggested Citation

  • Robert J. Bennett, 1998. "Explaining the Membership of Voluntary Local Business Associations: The Example of British Chambers of Commerce," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(6), pages 503-514, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:regstd:v:32:y:1998:i:6:p:503-514
    DOI: 10.1080/00343409850119076

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bennett, Robert J., 1995. "The Logic of Local Business Associations: an Analysis of Voluntary Chambers of Commerce," Journal of Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 251-279, September.
    2. Bowman,John R., 1989. "Capitalist Collective Action," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521362658, December.
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    1. Vikrant Shirodkar & Eshani Beddewela & Ulf Henning Richter, 2018. "Firm-Level Determinants of Political CSR in Emerging Economies: Evidence from India," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 148(3), pages 673-688, March.

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