Man, Work, and Society: A Reader in the Sociology of Occupations

By Sigmund Nosow; William H. Form | Go to book overview

for the expansion of each. The generic purpose of trade association is in some way to allay the rigors of trade competition, in order to assure or increase profits. But there is more than one way to achieve such an end. The general direction taken is largely conditioned by the public policy within whose confines associations develop. Accordingly there has been in some countries a predominant emphasis upon activities aimed primarily at the reduction of costs and in others upon activities designed to raise or maintain selling prices. In general there is a growing tendency to limit the term trade association to those organizations whose paramount interests lie in cost reduction as distinct from such organizations as pools, cartels, syndicates or comptoirs, which are structurally similar but functionally oriented toward price control. But this usage is by no means universal, and since in countries, like Germany, where public policy has long sanctioned cooperation among business rivals to control prices trade associations in this narrow sense are practically unknown.

. . . . .


B. HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES · Joseph H. Foth

We have no record of permanent trade associations in the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century. Many local and a few national associations were organized during the second half of the nineteenth century; but the association movement received its greatest stimulus after 1898, and especially during and after World War I. Associations have developed in large numbers among manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers; and from local beginnings have become interstate, national, and international in scope.

The development of trade associations in the United States may be divided roughly into three periods: the first period, that of promotion and pioneering, extended approximately from 1853 to 1898; the second period, that of the organization of national associations--the business service associations--extended from 1898 to 1917; and the third period, including the war activities of associations, extended from 1917 to the present time. . . .

During the first period of the trade association movement-- 1853 to 1898--trade associations were passing through the pioneering stage with its attendant problems and perplexities. Throughout this period, associations placed primary emphasis upon methods of restricting competition. Therefore, it is difficult to distinguish many of these loose and ephemeral organizations of the early part of this period from pools, which were organized for the sole purpose of restricting output, dividing territory, and fixing prices. Those associations which resorted to such methods were either short-lived or forced to place greater emphasis upon con

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