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Learning to Act on World Trade: Preference Formation of Large Firms in the United States and the European Union

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  • Woll, Cornelia

Abstract

Lobbying by economic actors constitutes a central element of a large part of the literature on trade policy-making. However, it is mainly considered as 'input' into the political system, which then aggregates the demand of different societal interests. As such inputs, the preferences of economic actors are often simply deduced from economic theory. This paper raises doubts about the usefulness of this analytical parsimony and tries to distinguish more clearly between stable interests, preferences and strategic choices. In particular, it suggests a model that clarifies how abstract interests are translated into concrete policy choices. By examining the lobbying carried out by service providers in the United States (US) and the European Union (EU) in telecommunications and air transport, it then shows that the deduction of trade policy preferences from economic theory does not account well for the general support of multilateral trade liberalization by EU service providers. In particular, changes in identity, causal beliefs and strategic environments in the US and the EU create a variety of lobbying choices that goes beyond the material incentives of trade liberalization. By studying the learning process and the constraints on lobbying imposed by political institutions, the paper suggests that even the political preferences of strong economic actors are sometimes more appropriately dealt with as endogenous to the trade policy process.

Suggested Citation

  • Woll, Cornelia, 2005. "Learning to Act on World Trade: Preference Formation of Large Firms in the United States and the European Union," MPIfG Discussion Paper 05/1, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgd:p0065
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Eising, Rainer, 2002. "Policy Learning in Embedded Negotiations: Explaining EU Electricity Liberalization," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(01), pages 85-120, December.
    2. Emiliano Grossman, 2003. "Bringing Politics Back In:Rethinking the Role of Economic Interest Groups in European Integration," Les Cahiers européens de Sciences Po 2, Centre d'études européennes (CEE) at Sciences Po, Paris.
    3. Robert H. Bates & Avner Greif & Margaret Levi & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 1998. "Analytic Narratives," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 6355.
    4. Holmes, Peter & Young, Alasdair R., 2002. "Liberalizing and Re-Regulating Telecommunications in Europe: A Common Framework and Persistent Differences," HWWA Discussion Papers 159, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA).
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    Cited by:

    1. Cornelia Woll, 2007. "From National Champions to Global Players? Lobbying by Dominant Providers during the WTO's Basic Telecom Negotiations," Post-Print hal-00972815, HAL.
    2. Cornelia Woll, 2007. "From National Champions to Global Players? Lobbying by Dominant Providers during the WTO’s Basic Telecom Negotiations," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/8527, Sciences Po.
    3. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/8527 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Alasdair R. Young, 2007. "Trade Politics Ain't What It Used to Be: The European Union in the Doha Round," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45, pages 789-811, November.

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