CROSS-NATIONAL TRANSFER: MECHANISMS
After the Second World War, a national crisis combined with geopolitical dependence in both France and West Germany to increase the likelihood that the American system of industrial production would become a model for national reconstruction and modernization. A small cross-national network had taken over and held on to key positions of institutional power, both in the USA and in these two Western European countries. Spinning dense webs of personal and institutional relationships across the Atlantic, French, West German, and American members of the cross-national network shared similar objectives and worked together in close synergy. The large-scale transfer to these two Western European countries of structural arrangements--peculiar until then to American industry and understood to be at the source of its success--was, in particular, a key common project.
Substantial differences, however, set apart the French and West German situations. First, the nature of the geopolitical link between the USA and each of these two countries was not the same. The degree of dependence remained higher in the West German case, even after the end of military occupation and well into the mid-1950s. In addition, cross-national channels were quite different. The German element in the cross-national network owed its institutional position of power on the national scene to direct co-optation by American actors. Relationships between these two sides of the network were thus highly asymmetrical. In France the modernizing group had secured national power on its own, using American support only to strengthen its position. Furthermore, amongst French and American members of the network, some were linked through close personal friendship, making for a more symmetrical relationship.
As a consequence of these differences, whether in the degree of geopolitical dependence or in the nature of the cross-national channels, transfer mechanisms were not the same in each case. In the French context, both sides of the cross-national network tended to rely on voluntary imitation as the main mechanism. The French modernizing group spontaneously took upon itself the task of transferring the American structural model to the national economic and industrial scene. The predominance of spontaneous and voluntary imitation in the French case, however, did not prevent the American side of the network from occasionally resorting to more coercive types of transfer mechanisms. Coercive mechanisms could speed up the transfer process.