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The Logic of Membership of Sectoral Business Associations


  • Robert Bennett


This paper assesses the logic of membership of sectoral business associations in Britain using evidence from a proportionate stratified random sample of associations. The British system gives no statuatory status to business associations. As a result the size and fragmentation of associations is similar to the US, membership of associations is interpreted in terms of the logic of specific business service demand and the logic of collective activities. Expectations from models of collective action, associability and involvement are used to interpret association membership. The paper argues that the normal distinction between associations as trade, professional or "peak" bodies is too simplistic in not properly differentiating the types of member. The paper employs instead a set of six categories dependent on the type of members: companies, owner-managers, the self-employed, and individuals, as well as bodies with mixed membership, and federations (which are associations of associations). Survey evidence demonstrates that member motives for joining, lapsing and constraining service development differ significantly between association types and tend most strongly to emphasise the logic of individual services as complements to the logic collective activity. Analysis of the rates of joining and lapsing membership show evidence of reluctance to join and high rates of lapsing.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Bennett, 2000. "The Logic of Membership of Sectoral Business Associations," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 58(1), pages 17-42.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:58:y:2000:i:1:p:17-42
    DOI: 10.1080/003467600363093

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    Cited by:

    1. I. S. Kukaev, 2015. "The Development Of Industrial Enterprises By Cooperative Interactions: An Institutional Approach," Russian Journal of Industrial Economics, MISiS.
    2. James Reveley & Simon Ville, 2010. "Enhancing Industry Association Theory: A Comparative Business History Contribution," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(s1), pages 837-858, July.
    3. Hultén, Peter & Barron, Andrew & Bryson, Douglas, 2012. "Cross-country differences in attitudes to business associations during the 2007–2010 recession," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 352-361.
    4. Grant Jordan & Darren Halpin, 2004. "Olson Triumphant? Recruitment Strategies and the Growth of a Small Business Organisation," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 52(3), pages 431-449, October.
    5. Bavorova, Miroslava & Curtiss, Jarmila, 2006. "What Motivates Farms to Associate? The Case of Two Competing Czech Agricultural Associations," 2006 Annual Meeting, August 12-18, 2006, Queensland, Australia 25770, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    6. Martina Battisti & Martin Perry, 2015. "Small enterprise affiliations to business associations and the collective action problem revisited," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 44(3), pages 559-576, March.
    7. Hayley H. Chouinard & Gregmar I. Galinato & Philip R. Wandschneider, 2016. "Making Friends To Influence Others: Entry And Contribution Decisions That Affect Social Capital In An Association," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(2), pages 819-834, April.


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