Corporate diplomacy and European Community information technology policies : the influence of multi-nationals and interest groups, 1980-1993
While the European-owned information technology multinationals, as represented in the IT Roundtable, exerted a preponderant influence on the development, approval and implementation of ESPRIT in the early and mid-1980s; by the early 1990s, they appeared unable to translate their policy preferences into policy outcomes.' This thesis seeks to establish whether or not these companies lost some of their influence over the European Community and, if so, why. It argues that the IT Roundtable members' corporate diplomacy was less effective in the late 1980s and early 1990s than it was in the early and mid-1980s, for the following three reasons. First, the effectiveness of the IT Roundtable as a channel of political activity was undermined by its declining representativeness, following the structural changes taking place in the industry; by its lack of internal coherence caused by the diverging interests of its members; and by the perception that the Roundtable was suitable for articulating preferences in the area of R&TD but inappropriate for voicing broader preferences on industrial policy. Second, doubts about the necessity of an indigenous IT capability depreciated the perceived value of the asset which conferred political weight on the Roundtable companies: their capability to supply economically and militarily strategic technologies and products. While the realization of short-term economic objectives became more important - even amongst those governments paying lip-service to the necessity of an indigenous IT capability - public investments into the Roundtable companies, ridden by crisis, were not perceived as yielding "value for money", particularly in terms of employment and social and economic cohesion. Third, the EC's ability to realize the IT Roundtable's policy preferences was hampered by the lack of consensus amongst the national governments; the latter's insistence on subsidiarity, national solutions and juste retour; their resistance to spending money, and the fragmentation of the EC's decision-making structure. The EC's ability to supply the policies requested was further hampered by the increasingly globalized nature of the IT industry, and the EC's limited economic leverage over Japan and the US in international negotiations on IT.