The Approach to a New Design
The early chapters of this book described the historical foundations of American, Japanese and German trade associations. The conclusions based on these chapters are that trade associations have national differences, which are integral to the different forms of industrial capitalism practiced in each nation.
The German trade associations work in close cooperation with government. Although membership in an industry association is voluntary, over 90 percent of all industrial firms are members of the BDI and over 80 percent of the eligible members belong to the VDA. Furthermore, by law, all firms must belong to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It is because of this high degree of industry organization and close cooperation with government that the German form of capitalism was called cooperative capitalism.
The Japanese trade associations' relationship with government is even closer than the German relationship. The Japanese associations build intraindustry consensus and to communicate to both government and industry members. The associations are government supported and, when necessary, are provided with guidance as well as government loans and advance notice to regulatory changes. The mode is one of collaboration, which is one step above cooperation.
The U.S. trade associations have had a history of formation and support by political entrepreneurs rather than by government. The role of trade associations has been to provide commercial benefits to member firms rather than to work toward any national interest in a government partnership. However, there appears today to be a move to bring about a better government-industry partnership in America.
Part 3 then focused on four American high-tech industries and their associations in order to describe how American associations are governed in support of the objectives of their corresponding industries in global competition. These industry associations are part of a highly pluralistic, loosely affiliated, structurally changing and vaguely directed set of organizations that are questionably designed for serving the national interest as well as the interests of the member firms.