International Business-Government Communications: U.S. Structures, Actors, and Issues

By Jack N. Behrman; J. J. Boddewyn et al. | Go to book overview

6
Criteria of Success of Government-Business Relations

If recommendations are to be made that government-business communication and consultation should be closer and that U.S. embassies or companies should adopt particular methods to achieve this end, there should be some criteria for determination of success.a And while it is not difficult to delineate such criteria, it is difficult to measure their attainment. As in advertising, no one is quite sure what the effects are, but everyone is sure that the effort should be made. Not only is it difficult to determine the precise result from any given effort, but long-run results differ from short-run results; and while continuous efforts may not pay off in the short run, they may very well in the long run. In addition, the continuation of similar efforts over any length of time may produce quite different results, as conditions change or receptivity changes with different governments. Also, the effort of any group of companies can be thwarted or made ineffective by the noncooperation or contrary action of any one company. The case of company dialogues with the Venezuelan government over oil policies is illustrative. After difficult but quiet negotiations, a group of the companies had convinced the government officials that certain provisions in a bill should be changed. One company, not in the group, made a public announcement that it was "now ready" to negotiate with the government on the bill, making it impossible for the government to change anything without appearing to capitulate to the oil companies. The bill passed in its original uncompromising form.

In the mid-sixties, the action by Remington Rand in closing a French plant was cited throughout Europe as evidence of "irresponsible behavior of American companies," despite the fact that no other case could be cited.

Finally, despite continued and rather sophisticated efforts on the part of either government or business, external factors may be introduced that make the situation worse than it was before. It is therefore not possible to demonstrate that the efforts were ineffective, because the situation could well have been worse without them.

The criteria of success of government-business relations will differ according to what is done, how, when, and by whom, and how each of these aspects is

____________________
a
It is, of course, arguable that government-business ties should be loosened, separating their activities clearly and distinctly. This view would fit with a neoclassical world in which governments set the rules and the market dictated company actions. Whether the world ought to be ordered in this fashion is not argued here--rather, we see the problems that are emerging in the present setting as requiring closer government-business ties to attain mutual objectives under market and nonmarket criteria and activities.

-125-

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