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The representative role of regional business associations: The Engineering Employers' Federation Northern Association in North East England

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Elizabeth Dixon


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The representational activities of business associations at the regional level are generally underdeveloped. In the past there has been little need to cultivate regional representation due to the political centralism that is characteristic of the UK. New Labour's regional agenda changed this situation and business associations were presented with additional opportunities to participate in an emerging process of regional governance. The response to these opportunities is explored through an analysis of the experiences of the Engineering Employers' Federation Northern Association (EEFNA). This paper argues that the engagement of business associations in the process of regional governance is dependent upon their 'will' and capacity. Drawing upon the formative work of Schmitter and Streeck and the more recent work of Bennett, it is further argued that the elements of will and capacity are influenced by the differing 'logics' that drive business associations, identified here as the'logic of services'and the 'logic of influence'. Representation, the outcome of the 'logic of influence' is a sophisticated process. The benefits of representation are not always clear to members of business associations, therefore it has the potential to cause tensions within business associations. Indeed research indicates that in the North East there are a number of problems associated with the representation process. These problems are generated by the perceptions of the regional partners (the RDA, One NorthEast (ONE), The Regional Assembly and Government Office for the North East (GO-NE)), tensions between business associations and, in the case of the EEFNA, tensions within the association itself. These problems impact on the strength of the 'logic of influence'. It is suggested that in the case of the EEFNA the 'logic of services' is the prevailing force and has overshadowed the 'logic of influence'. The imbalance has affected both the 'will' and the capacity of the association to participate in the process of regional governance. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dixon E

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Regional and Federal Studies

Year: 2006

Volume: 16

Issue: 2

Pages: 179-196

ISSN (print): 1359-7566

ISSN (electronic): 1743-9434


DOI: 10.1080/13597560600652056


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