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How Business Organizes Collectively An Inquiry on Trade Associations and Other Meta-Organizations


Collective action by firms is a central phenomenon in society, seen for example in standards setting, multi-stakeholder initiatives, and in relation to climate change, environmental and human rights issues. This incisive book reveals how firms set up specific devices, referred to by the authors as FCADs (Firms’ Collective Action Devices), of which trade associations and chambers of commerce are the traditional forms, and investigates how firms organize themselves collectively, and their impact on the economy and democracy.

Delving deeply into previously under-explored aspects of collective actions by firms, using the concepts of meta-organization and heterarchy, the book combines and expands on insights from history, political science, economics, sociology, management and organization theory. It demonstrates empirically how FCADs function on the basis of compromise and consensus, and analyzes their forms of action, their organizational dynamics and their recent evolution.

This rigorous and pluridisciplinary evaluation of how businesses organize collectively will appeal to researchers and PhD students in organization studies and business management, as well as those in other disciplines who are interested in firms’ collective action. It will also be a useful resource for business practitioners, public servants and politicians in contact with firms’ collective action, and NGO members

Key words:

Firms’ collective action; trade associations; meta-organizations; interest groups; heterarchy