Exporting the American Model: The Post-War Transformation of European Business

By Marie-Laure A. Djelic | Go to book overview

4
Actors and Institutional Channels Emergence of a Cross-National Modernizing Network

As of today, the one great area where the drive of the Kremlin has been stopped cold is in Western Europe. Here we find it stopped not by bullets or oratorical outbursts but by the force of an idea . . . the idea behind the Marshall plan.

Paul G. Hoffman1

By the late 1940s, cross-national networks were in place linking small groups of French or West German actors with a number of progressive Americans, all in key institutional positions of power. Such a network did not emerge in Italy where the national élite and the American group involved in Italian affairs turned out to have little in common, both in terms of ideology or of objectives. In France, a small number of modernizing actors took over or created, immediately after the Second World War, key institutions at the border between state and economy and at the point of articulation of Franco-American relationships. Originating from the public sphere and from the civil service, they soon spun a dense web. Planning and preparing the large-scale transformation of national economic, industrial, and even social structures, French modernizers looked towards the USA for models they could borrow. On the other side of the Atlantic, in the meantime, a group of progressive businessmen, civil servants, and economists was taking control of the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA), a newly created institution in charge of managing the Marshall plan. The synergy between this American group and the modernizing élite in France proved significant. They had compatible objectives and shared a common ideology, a mixture of Keynesianism, productivism, and fordism. They also came to be institutionally contiguous, in particular through the French planning board and the ECA Mission in Paris, thus increasing the likelihood of collaboration. In the western territories of Germany, however, the situation was somewhat different. Until the creation of the Federal Republic in 1949, power ultimately rested with a non-local élite. American occupation authorities and representatives of the ECA played a particularly significant role, designing a program for the large-scale transformation of German economic and industrial structures. Those foreign actors soon realized, however, that reforms would not last if they were merely being imposed on the Germans. By 1948, Americans thus started to co-opt a group of German

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