Abstract Policy-planning organizations have undergone significant development in France over the last two decades. Interconnecting the economic, political and intellectual elites, their study merits particular attention. This paper examines the active involvement of the business community in these organizations to highlight its role in the policy-planning process. Focusing on the top 100 corporations and the top 40 policy organizations, it analyses the structure of their interlocking directorates. The cohesion of the policy-planning network significantly relies on the brokering role of a few business leaders and economists. The network discloses a core-periphery structure and a left–right polarization. The results shed light on the relative convergence among the main policy organizations and the relegation of less consensual organizations to the network periphery. 1. Introduction In response to the call for the development of an institutional approach to the study of elites and command posts that informs our understanding of policy making and implementation (Zald and Lounsbury, 2010), this article focuses on the active involvement of the French corporate elite in policy-planning organizations. Much recent research examines the structure of the field of power (Denord et al., 2011) or of the field of economic power (Dudouet et al., 2014) in France. Further investigation on the extra-corporate networks of the corporate elite is now necessary to better assess the processes underlying its political and ideological influence. The role of the corporate elite in the policy-planning network, at a time when expertise has become an essential repertoire of action (see for instance Laurens, 2015), would seem to be a promising field of research in this regard. To this end, this paper focuses on the interlocking directorates among the top 40 policy-planning organizations and the top 100 French companies. An interlock occurs as soon as a board member of an organization serves on the board of another organization. A few pioneers have tackled the question of corporate political action (see Burris, 1987, 2005; Mizruchi, 1992; Bond et al., 2010). When they address this question, research usually focuses on contributions to political parties. However, donations from firms to parties have been forbidden in France since 1995. Studying revolving doors constitutes an alternative approach, allowing us to analyse the links between the corporate sphere and the state bureaucracy (see for instance van Apeldoorn et al., 2012; Van Apeldoorn and de Graaff, 2014). The transfers of personnel from large corporations to the head of the state bureaucracy are less common in France than in the USA, because a school is dedicated to provide professional training to its senior civil servants—the Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA)—while policy-planning agencies play this role of training future state leaders in the USA. In contrast, this paper deals with policy-planning agencies in order to explore a specific type of corporate political action. They play an important role in the policy-making process by facilitating discussion and consensus among elites, sponsoring research, lobbying government, and serving as a channel of recruitment into ministry cabinets. Since the Second World War, the most famous have been the Club Jean Moulin and the Fondation Saint Simon. The Club Jean Moulin (1958–1970) brought together senior civil servants, journalists, scholars, trade unionists and corporate leaders and focused on democracy and French institutions. It published numerous articles in the newspaper Le Monde and books with the publisher Le Seuil. It declined corporate donations and experienced frequent financial problems. In the 1960s, it abandoned its initial non-partisan position and joined the left-wing coalition led by François Mitterrand. It suffered from the crises experienced by the left wing and its activities stopped in the early 1970s. The Fondation Saint-Simon (1981–1999) adopted a similar third way project. It organized many seminars and conferences to create a dialogue between scholars, senior civil servants and corporate leaders and published numerous articles, reports and books. Contrary to the Club Jean Moulin, it received generous donations from major companies. However, the majority of French policy-planning agencies were created over the last two decades and have benefited from means far more modest than in the USA or even in Germany. For instance, one of the most important French policy organizations which is specialized in international affairs and publishes a yearly report on worldwide geopolitics (Ramsès), Institut Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI), benefited from a revenue of €6 million in 2015 (generated partly by the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Defence), more than 15 times lower than the revenues of the Heritage Foundation or the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. Despite their relatively modest size and means, they exert great influence over policy-making. Most political leaders are monopolized by contingencies, public relations and social events. They have no time to deepen policy issues, so that they outsource this intellectual part of their job to policy organizations and lobbies. These agencies provide standardized and ready-for-use ideas to politicians from all sides and circulate them in the media to forge consensus in public opinion. A few of them are particularly influential and are frequently cited in the press as well as in parliament (see Lenglet and Vilain, 2011, pp. 149–153): the Institut Montaigne, Terra Nova, the Fondapol, IFRI and the Fondation Jean Jaurès. Furthermore, policy organizations contribute to the acceleration of reforms to the extent that they prepare more and more policy alternatives. Meanwhile, citizens, journalists and activists are less and less able to analyse and criticize them. The term ‘policy-planning organizations’ is preferred to the term ‘think tanks’ in this paper, insofar as it relates to a wider spectrum of organizations. Think tanks are usually defined as non-profit organizations independent from political parties, state bureaucracy and companies, which perform studies and advocacy concerning topics such as social issues, economics or international strategy in order to influence the political agenda. This definition, mainly framed for the Anglo-American context, raises numerous problems in the French context. In France, most of these organizations are not independent from state bureaucracy, whether because they are partly funded by it or more straightforwardly because they are public agencies. In contrast, the term ‘policy-planning organizations’ only refers to their role in the policy process. Their basic work consists in framing ideas and issues and/or providing policy alternatives, before policy-making. In contrast, lobbies more generally focus on the policy-making step. This term, the most common in the area of power structure research, is used here to argue that the leaders of large corporations promote a political agenda in these organizations, which differ from simple social clubs where they would only socialize and share ideas. Their participation in these organizations allows them to indirectly intervene in the policy process. Likewise, funding these organizations also contrasts with funding other non-profits, to the extent that it conveys a political and ideological meaning. The subsequent sections clarify the arguments related to the process of policy planning under scrutiny and present the method. The fourth part discusses the main findings. I demonstrate the central position of business leaders in this network and their connections to other elites. Then, I study the structure of the French policy-planning network, which displays at the same time a core-periphery structure and a left–right polarization, before drawing my conclusions. 2. Research question and arguments I adopt a neo-structural perspective (Lazega, 2001; Lazega and Mounier, 2002) to shed light on the regulatory process in the policy-planning network. From this perspective, I examine cooperation among competitors at individual and organizational levels and use social network analysis to dissect the social processes underlying collective action. ‘In describing the relational and symbolic work accomplished by the entrepreneur, [this perspective] brings to light the social discipline (between interdependent entrepreneurs) that such work instils […]. By thus exposing the relational and symbolic dimension of such discipline, this approach allows for observing and modelling the interdependencies between actors; the manner in which they manage these interdependencies through relational investments and social exchanges; the structural forms that these investments and exchanges create; and finally the social processes that they catalyse or facilitate’ (Lazega, 2009, p. 5). Policy-planning organizations compete for various resources (mainly political influence, media coverage, money and expertise). Meanwhile, they have to cooperate in order to strengthen their legitimacy by comparison with more established organizations such as political parties, unions, non-Government organizations (NGOs) and the like. They strive to build social niches, in which they may cultivate bounded solidarity and accumulate various social resources. Their own success depends on the efficacy of their collective action. While the main function of these organizations (even the allegedly non-partisan) is to produce policy alternatives and ideas which rely on moral or political values, the process of regulation in the network consists in trying to define which values should be collectively promoted, downgraded or disqualified. The policy-planning process inside and among these organizations may be considered as a process of joint regulation (Reynaud, 1989), implying in particular the state and large corporations. The balance of power may have changed in half a century. The state played a very central role in this regulatory process until the 1980s thanks in particular to the Commissariat général du Plan. Since the 1990s, the balance has shifted in favour of large corporations, while the number of policy-planning organizations has surged ahead. By funding more and more policy organizations, large corporations have partially captured institutions which define the general interest. This notion has a specific meaning in France, inherited from the 18th century philosophy of Du Contrat Social by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In contrast to the Anglo-American world, where the general interest is seen as the sum of particular interests, the French version of the general interest refers to the superior interest of the community, which usually requests (and legitimates) the intervention of the state. Mark Mizruchi has pioneered studies on corporate political action (Mizruchi, 1992). He established how interlocking directorates may influence the political behaviour of corporations, measured by their contributions to political parties, at the dyadic and structural levels. This approach has inspired numerous scholars. However, research on interlocks has faced a critical challenge in the last few years. Worldwide, interlocks have tended to decline. This tendency questions research based on interlocks. Chu and Davis (2016) suggest that it might be abandoned, while serving on multiple boards no longer means being part of the inner circle. They observe a rapid social deconstruction of prestige: whereas the ‘super-connectors’ were sought-after because of their legitimating connections throughout the 20th century, they turned into ‘busy’ and ‘overworked’ directors in the early 2000s. Mark Mizruchi draws political conclusions from this decline (Mizruchi, 2013). While corporate elites have concentrated a lot of power and encountered less resistance from unions, their motives to mobilize have faded. The inner circle may have abdicated its political role, which could partly explain the success of the Tea Party movement. However, the cohesion of corporate elites not only relies on interlocks, but on many other kinds of ties and institutions. I therefore adopt an approach based instead on policy-planning organizations, following Roy Barnes: ‘analysing the participation of the corporate elite in policy planning organisation is a cornerstone for understanding how elite corporate directors exercise political influence’ (Barnes, 2017, p. 40). Nevertheless, my perspective is different from the usual approach to extra-corporate networks, which tends to show their impact on corporate networks and top executive careers. For instance, Maclean et al. (2014) demonstrate that French directors who are extra-corporate networkers (members of two or more national or international non-business boards) are more likely to stay in the inner circle (to continue being directors of two or more large companies). And those with several corporate directorships are more likely to get a top executive position when they are extra-corporate networkers. Roy Barnes highlights that policy-planning ties create more additional ties in the corporate elite than social club ties by 1995 in the USA, even if social clubs continue to be the most important source of social ties for reducing social distance (Barnes, 2017). Carroll and Sapinski (2010) explain that policy-planning ties in transnational organizations such as the Trilateral or Bilderberg contribute to the creation of a global corporate elite (see on the transnational capitalist class Burris and Staples, 2012; Murray, 2014). Since I intend to highlight the political influence of the corporate elite, I invert the point of view: I argue that the involvement of corporate directors in policy-planning organizations has an impact on the policy network structure, all the more so as they occupy a central role in this network. Proposition 1. The corporate elite has a central position in the policy-planning network. In France, most research on the political collective action of business leaders focuses on employers’ associations, such as the main one, Mouvement des entreprises de France (Medef) (see in particular Woll, 2006; Offerlé, 2013). Through these lenses, collective action may appear problematic. To Woll (2006), Medef gathers actors that are too heterogeneous with interests that are too divergent to be able to efficiently influence the political agenda. In contrast, Useem (1984) points out the political power of an informal group, a small minority of business leaders in the USA and the UK, whose positions transcend the parochial interest of a single company and who turn out to be especially politically active. This informal group is called the inner circle. It is composed of directors who sit on the boards of at least two large companies. Thanks to their bridging position in the corporate network, they acquire a ‘system-wide awareness of the long-range concerns of big business’. These business leaders are more likely than any other directors to be invited by government to render advice on legislation and by non-profit organizations (universities, museums, think tanks, etc.) to be part of their governing boards. The inner circle is the ‘leading edge of business political activity’. ‘It is this core […] which can […] provide some element of planning and control in an otherwise unplanned economy.’ (Useem, 1984, p. 114). Focusing only on organized political mobilization in employers’ associations may be misleading, because business political activity is also (and probably more efficiently) triggered by this informal group. I argue that members of the inner circle get more frequently involved in the governing bodies of policy-planning agencies than other directors of large corporations. Kadushin (1995) observes this tendency with regard to the French financial elite in 1990 and states: ‘we report that Association Française des Entreprises Privées (Afep), and Fondation Saint Simon are especially associated with the inner circle’ (p. 208). Afep was created in 1982 by a leading lobbyist, Ambroise Roux, former chairman of the Compagnie Générale d’Électricité, which became Alcatel in 1998. It is an interest group which represents about 100 top French companies. Both very influential and highly secretive, it is almost unknown to the public despite its great political influence (Daumas, 2010, pp. 1127–1134). Proposition 2. Members of the inner circle are more likely to sit on the governing boards of policy-planning agencies than other business leaders. Given their position in the policy-planning network, members of the inner circle may significantly influence the policy-planning process. Lazega (2001, Chapter 8) shows that the most influential actors in the definition of major rules in a collegial organization are multi-positioned actors, who benefit from heterogeneous and non-congruent forms of status, the ‘multi-status oligarchs’. These actors are particularly influential when they can combine their power with a form of legitimacy, i.e. an ability to speak convincingly on behalf of the group. In the case of policy-planning organizations, one can expect that the most influential trustees or counsellors in policy organizations are those whose careers span various sectors and who exert control over several social resources. A significant share of research on policy-planning agencies scrutinizes their political influence (Stone and Denham, 2004). For instance, Van Apeldoorn and de Graaff (2014) show that their influence may explain the stability of the US ‘grand strategy’, to the extent that many senior officers from different governments (in particular Clinton’s, Bush’s and Obama’s) are linked to the same policy-planning agencies. These studies more generally tend to highlight the role of policy-planning agencies in the promotion of neoliberal or conservative ideas. Indeed, the rise of think tanks in the 1970s corresponds to the spread of the neoliberal creed (Heredia, 2014). In the USA, the structural evolution of the policy-planning network translates the conservative political mobilization and heightened political unity among business elites in the 1970s and 1980s (Burris, 2008; see on US think tanks Medvetz, 2012). The sharp rise in network cohesion corresponds to the rightward shift in US state policy during this period. Furthermore, the policy-planning network is clearly structured on ideological bases in the USA, which results from a strong correlation between interlocks among policy-planning agencies and ideological proximities. One might extrapolate the same phenomenon of polarization in the French network. Proposition 3. The policy-planning network should exhibit apolarizationbased on ideological proximity. Bourdieu and Boltanski (1976) identified two main ideological positions in the French ruling class in the 1970s, with a conservative cluster related to the inherited capital and another cluster, which allegedly embodies modern values and which defends a more accommodating neoliberal doctrine (from liberal dirigisme to regulated liberalism). The latter is spearheaded by a group of ‘enlightened’ business leaders, intellectuals and high-ranking civil servants, backed by the Commissariat général du Plan displaying new ideas and playing the role of a place, where a compromise among the various factions of the ruling class is looked for (see on this topic Angeletti, 2011). At the turn of the century, Maclean (2002) concludes from her historical investigation that the second cluster finally won the ideological struggle and triumphed over the old guard of French nationalism. 3. Data and method The methodology is based on the analysis of two bipartite networks. The first network is composed of the top 100 listed companies and their directors, and the second of the top 40 policy-planning agencies and their trustees and counsellors. The literature on extra-corporate interlocking directorates is much less extensive than the literature on corporate interlocks. However, research on the patterns of extra-corporate interlocks is promising. For instance, Diani and McAdam (2003) show that the network of non-profits may enlighten the dynamics of social movements. The companies selected are the top 100 listed French companies. Data on their directors are compiled from their 2009 annual report. The selection of policy-planning organizations is less straightforward since the usual definitions of policy-planning agencies (see Stone et al., 1998; Stone and Denham, 2004) raise a lot of questions in the French context. As a compromise, I retain only the organizations which were cited in at least two directories (see Table 1). I use lists from the following directories in November 2014: the Observatoire des think tanks, Les groupes de réflexion et d'influence en Europe directory (Moog, 2008), the Res Publica observatory, the Global Go to Think Tank directory, Centre International d’Études Pédagogiques list and National Institute for Research Advancement’s world directory of think tanks. I exclude one organization from the selection, which does not match usual definitions: Telos, which is a website. Data on their trustees and counsellors in 2008–2009 were compiled from their yearly report or website and from Les groupes de réflexion et d’influence en Europe directory. The only exception is Terra Nova, of which data refer to 2012. A few organizations do not have any boards. In such cases, I integrate their leaders and main members into the dataset. Table 1. List of policy-planning organizations Organizations Label in Figure 1 Number of citations in directories Organizations Label in Figure 1 Number of citations in directories Centre d’Études et de Prospectives Stratégiques 2 Forum Carolus 2 CEPII 3 Futuribles 2 Cercle des Économistes Cercleeco 2 IDDRI 2 CERI Ceri 2 IFRAP 3 Club de l’Horloge 2 Ifri Ifri 4 Club des Vigilants Vigilants 2 Institut Aspen France Aspen 2 Club du XXIe Siècle Xxisiecle 2 Institut Choiseul Choiseul 2 Confrontations Europe Confeur 2 Institut de l’Entreprise Idep 3 Conseil d’Analyse de la Société (CAS) Casoc 2 Institut Montaigne Montaigne 4 En Temps Réel Etr 2 Institut Paul Delouvrier 2 Entreprise et Progrès Entpro 2 Institut Thomas More 2 EU Institute for Security Studies 2 Institut Turgot Turgot 2 Europartenaires Eurpart 2 Iris Iris 5 Fondapol Fondap 4 La République des Idées Larepidees 2 Fondation Concorde 3 L’ami Public 2 Fondation Copernic 3 Le Centre d’Analyse Stratégique 2 Fondation Gabriel Péri 3 Notre Europe Notreeur 2 Fondation Jean Jaurès Jaures 3 Prométhée 2 Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique FRS 3 Res Publica 2 Fondation Robert Schuman Schuman 3 Terra Nova Terranova 4 Organizations Label in Figure 1 Number of citations in directories Organizations Label in Figure 1 Number of citations in directories Centre d’Études et de Prospectives Stratégiques 2 Forum Carolus 2 CEPII 3 Futuribles 2 Cercle des Économistes Cercleeco 2 IDDRI 2 CERI Ceri 2 IFRAP 3 Club de l’Horloge 2 Ifri Ifri 4 Club des Vigilants Vigilants 2 Institut Aspen France Aspen 2 Club du XXIe Siècle Xxisiecle 2 Institut Choiseul Choiseul 2 Confrontations Europe Confeur 2 Institut de l’Entreprise Idep 3 Conseil d’Analyse de la Société (CAS) Casoc 2 Institut Montaigne Montaigne 4 En Temps Réel Etr 2 Institut Paul Delouvrier 2 Entreprise et Progrès Entpro 2 Institut Thomas More 2 EU Institute for Security Studies 2 Institut Turgot Turgot 2 Europartenaires Eurpart 2 Iris Iris 5 Fondapol Fondap 4 La République des Idées Larepidees 2 Fondation Concorde 3 L’ami Public 2 Fondation Copernic 3 Le Centre d’Analyse Stratégique 2 Fondation Gabriel Péri 3 Notre Europe Notreeur 2 Fondation Jean Jaurès Jaures 3 Prométhée 2 Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique FRS 3 Res Publica 2 Fondation Robert Schuman Schuman 3 Terra Nova Terranova 4 Table 1. List of policy-planning organizations Organizations Label in Figure 1 Number of citations in directories Organizations Label in Figure 1 Number of citations in directories Centre d’Études et de Prospectives Stratégiques 2 Forum Carolus 2 CEPII 3 Futuribles 2 Cercle des Économistes Cercleeco 2 IDDRI 2 CERI Ceri 2 IFRAP 3 Club de l’Horloge 2 Ifri Ifri 4 Club des Vigilants Vigilants 2 Institut Aspen France Aspen 2 Club du XXIe Siècle Xxisiecle 2 Institut Choiseul Choiseul 2 Confrontations Europe Confeur 2 Institut de l’Entreprise Idep 3 Conseil d’Analyse de la Société (CAS) Casoc 2 Institut Montaigne Montaigne 4 En Temps Réel Etr 2 Institut Paul Delouvrier 2 Entreprise et Progrès Entpro 2 Institut Thomas More 2 EU Institute for Security Studies 2 Institut Turgot Turgot 2 Europartenaires Eurpart 2 Iris Iris 5 Fondapol Fondap 4 La République des Idées Larepidees 2 Fondation Concorde 3 L’ami Public 2 Fondation Copernic 3 Le Centre d’Analyse Stratégique 2 Fondation Gabriel Péri 3 Notre Europe Notreeur 2 Fondation Jean Jaurès Jaures 3 Prométhée 2 Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique FRS 3 Res Publica 2 Fondation Robert Schuman Schuman 3 Terra Nova Terranova 4 Organizations Label in Figure 1 Number of citations in directories Organizations Label in Figure 1 Number of citations in directories Centre d’Études et de Prospectives Stratégiques 2 Forum Carolus 2 CEPII 3 Futuribles 2 Cercle des Économistes Cercleeco 2 IDDRI 2 CERI Ceri 2 IFRAP 3 Club de l’Horloge 2 Ifri Ifri 4 Club des Vigilants Vigilants 2 Institut Aspen France Aspen 2 Club du XXIe Siècle Xxisiecle 2 Institut Choiseul Choiseul 2 Confrontations Europe Confeur 2 Institut de l’Entreprise Idep 3 Conseil d’Analyse de la Société (CAS) Casoc 2 Institut Montaigne Montaigne 4 En Temps Réel Etr 2 Institut Paul Delouvrier 2 Entreprise et Progrès Entpro 2 Institut Thomas More 2 EU Institute for Security Studies 2 Institut Turgot Turgot 2 Europartenaires Eurpart 2 Iris Iris 5 Fondapol Fondap 4 La République des Idées Larepidees 2 Fondation Concorde 3 L’ami Public 2 Fondation Copernic 3 Le Centre d’Analyse Stratégique 2 Fondation Gabriel Péri 3 Notre Europe Notreeur 2 Fondation Jean Jaurès Jaures 3 Prométhée 2 Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique FRS 3 Res Publica 2 Fondation Robert Schuman Schuman 3 Terra Nova Terranova 4 The selected policy-planning organizations are rather heterogeneous (see Table 2). This diversity is typical to this domain, which exhibits very dissimilar organizations in terms of size, resources and the quality or quantity of research output (Stone, 2000, p. 156). Most are private bodies generally organized as non-profit organizations. Nearly, one-third of the non-profits benefit from the label ‘reconnu d’utilité publique’, which means that donations to them are eligible for tax exemptions (66% of donation amount). Some others are governmental or European Union (EU) agencies or research centres. In general, they are mostly funded by corporations and by the state and display rather low yearly budgets, lower than €1 million for most of them. Two-thirds were established after 1990, and only three before 1970. The oldest is France Stratégie (the ‘Centre d’Analyse Stratégique’ in 2009), which is the former Commissariat Général du Plan de Modernisation et d’Équipement established in 1946 by Charles de Gaulle and Jean Monnet, appointed as its first chairman, in order to guide the reconstruction of the country after World War II and to define its economic planning, particularly through 5-Year Plans. France Stratégie is now responsible for analysing and evaluating public policies for the executive and for coordinating eight specialized policy organizations, in particular the Conseil d’Analyse Économique (economic policy) and the Centre d’études prospectives et d’informations internationales (international economics). Table 2. Formal characteristics of policy-planning organizations (N = 40) N (%) Date of establishment 1946–1990 13 33 1991–2000 14 35 After 2000 13 33 Legal status Non-profit 24 62 Non-profit labelled ‘reconnu d’utilité publique’ 10 26 Public agency (research centre, governmental or EU agency) 5 13 Types of members Individuals 28 76 Organizations 7 19 Both 2 5 Main source of funding State 16 43 Corporations 16 43 Selling and subscriptions 5 14 Budget Less than €200,000 13 35 From €200,000 to €1 million 9 24 More than €1 million 15 41 N (%) Date of establishment 1946–1990 13 33 1991–2000 14 35 After 2000 13 33 Legal status Non-profit 24 62 Non-profit labelled ‘reconnu d’utilité publique’ 10 26 Public agency (research centre, governmental or EU agency) 5 13 Types of members Individuals 28 76 Organizations 7 19 Both 2 5 Main source of funding State 16 43 Corporations 16 43 Selling and subscriptions 5 14 Budget Less than €200,000 13 35 From €200,000 to €1 million 9 24 More than €1 million 15 41 Table 2. Formal characteristics of policy-planning organizations (N = 40) N (%) Date of establishment 1946–1990 13 33 1991–2000 14 35 After 2000 13 33 Legal status Non-profit 24 62 Non-profit labelled ‘reconnu d’utilité publique’ 10 26 Public agency (research centre, governmental or EU agency) 5 13 Types of members Individuals 28 76 Organizations 7 19 Both 2 5 Main source of funding State 16 43 Corporations 16 43 Selling and subscriptions 5 14 Budget Less than €200,000 13 35 From €200,000 to €1 million 9 24 More than €1 million 15 41 N (%) Date of establishment 1946–1990 13 33 1991–2000 14 35 After 2000 13 33 Legal status Non-profit 24 62 Non-profit labelled ‘reconnu d’utilité publique’ 10 26 Public agency (research centre, governmental or EU agency) 5 13 Types of members Individuals 28 76 Organizations 7 19 Both 2 5 Main source of funding State 16 43 Corporations 16 43 Selling and subscriptions 5 14 Budget Less than €200,000 13 35 From €200,000 to €1 million 9 24 More than €1 million 15 41 Most organizations (16) deal with a broad range of issues and are considered as generalist (see Table 3), whereas eight are specialized in the field of economics and management, eight in international relations and six focus on Europe. One may also analyse their distribution according to their ideological orientation. I code the political position of each organization on a left–right scale from its closeness to a political party and/or its values (see the ParlGov database for the positions of French political parties Döring and Manow, 2016). A lot of organizations claim to be non-partisan, because they are linked to the state bureaucracy or are eager to promote their expertise beyond ideology. Nevertheless, I categorize some of them according to the political affiliation of their main founders, when their ideological orientation is obvious, and a few liberal organizations, which promote a liberal market economy, as relating to the centre, to the extent that liberal organizations in France are usually related to the centre–right and are often close to a social democratic line. As a result, one-third appear as non-partisan, a quarter are related to the left wing, another quarter to the centre and one-seventh to the right wing. Table 3. Specialization and political orientation of policy-planning organizations (N = 40) N (%) Specialization Generalist 16 40 Economic issues 8 20 International relations 8 20 Europe 6 15 Other issues 2 5 Political orientation Right 6 15 Centre 11 28 Left 9 23 Non-partisan 14 35 N (%) Specialization Generalist 16 40 Economic issues 8 20 International relations 8 20 Europe 6 15 Other issues 2 5 Political orientation Right 6 15 Centre 11 28 Left 9 23 Non-partisan 14 35 Table 3. Specialization and political orientation of policy-planning organizations (N = 40) N (%) Specialization Generalist 16 40 Economic issues 8 20 International relations 8 20 Europe 6 15 Other issues 2 5 Political orientation Right 6 15 Centre 11 28 Left 9 23 Non-partisan 14 35 N (%) Specialization Generalist 16 40 Economic issues 8 20 International relations 8 20 Europe 6 15 Other issues 2 5 Political orientation Right 6 15 Centre 11 28 Left 9 23 Non-partisan 14 35 The Pajek software program (see de Nooy et al., 2005) was used to convert membership lists into overlap matrices. Given the heterogeneity of organizations, the size of their governing boards varies greatly. So translating these raw overlap counts into a pertinent measure of the strength of overlap among organizations requires controlling for variation in the size of boards. I used the technique proposed by Bonacich (1972) that yields a standardized interlocks score for the degree of overlap among organizations, controlling for the variation in board size. To analyse the polarization of the network, I applied multidimensional scaling and hierarchical clustering to map the pattern of interlocks among these policy-planning agencies. The standardized interlocks scores were submitted to a multidimensional scaling algorithm to produce a two-dimensional map of the interlocking network, which enables us to visualize the relational proximities among policy-planning agencies. In parallel, I performed a hierarchical clustering, whose resulting clusters are superimposed on the MDS map. This analysis based on multidimensional scaling may evoke the geometric data analysis promoted by Pierre Bourdieu to analyse the structure of fields in general and the structure of the field of power in particular. However, this mapping differs from Bourdieu’s field mapping, because the former only relies on interlocks data, while the latter reflects the distribution of various forms of capital (for comparisons between social network analysis and geometric data analysis see Denord and Rosental, 2013; Denord, 2015). Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Main policy-planning clusters. Notes: The dotted contours refer to the results of the hierarchical clustering. See Table 1 for the full names of the policy organizations corresponding to the labels. Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Main policy-planning clusters. Notes: The dotted contours refer to the results of the hierarchical clustering. See Table 1 for the full names of the policy organizations corresponding to the labels. 4. Findings 4.1 The structural predominance of business leaders and scholars As expected, business leaders play an important role in the policy-planning network, which is not surprising, given that they have participated in policy-planning agencies for a long time and that some organizations were even initiated by corporate leaders. Entreprise et progrès is a good example: it was created after the social movement of May 1968 by François Dalle, CEO of L’Oréal, in 1970 to promote a ‘modern’ vision of firms based on the decentralization of decision-making, the freedom of firms, social dialogue and growth (Daumas, 2010, p. 1041). After various actions to help renew the Conseil National du Patronat Français (CNPF), the forerunner Medef, and think about the economic crises of the 1970s, this organization sank into oblivion until the Left took office, before another period of relative inactivity in the 1990s. The mobilization of corporate leaders soared in the 2000s: ‘From 2000, the French business leaders joined the adventure in turn, facing what is felt by many as an incapacity of the state bureaucracy to deal with the social issues raised by immigration, globalization, etc.’1 1 Translated by the author. (Boucher and Royo, 2012, p. 109). Several policy organizations were initiated from this political mobilization. Claude Bébéar, chairman of the Axa board, created a think tank, the Institut Montaigne, in 2000. He intends it to be transpartisan and ‘to enlighten public decision-making thanks to the light of civil society’ (see Daumas, 2010, pp. 1043–1044). Its revenue is higher than those of most other organizations at nearly €4 million in 2015. It releases numerous reports, notes and briefing papers and claims that a great share of its policy alternatives are discussed in parliament. It deals with various issues from healthcare policy, social cohesion and education to economic policy. Christian Blanc, a former CEO of Air France (1993–1997) and Merrill Lynch France (2000–2002), founded L’Ami public in 2001, an association which is now rather discreet. Jérôme Monod, former CEO of the Lyonnaise des Eaux (which now belongs to the Suez Environnement group) between 1980 and 1997, former secretary-general of the main right-wing party, the Rassemblement pour la République (RPR), in the 1970s and prominent advisor of Jacques Chirac in the 2000s, created the Fondation Concorde in 1997 and the Fondapol (Fondation pour l’Innovation Politique) in 2004 with the help of the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP), which replaced the RPR. The Fondation Concorde was also funded at its beginning by the UMP (former The Republicans), whereas it has since gained more independence. It organizes breakfast debates and publishes studies such as an opinion survey about trust toward various institutions in France and seven other countries. The Fondapol is mostly funded by the state, whereas it advocates liberal reforms such as the end of the welfare state or a golden rule for public spending. Its director is Dominique Reynié, professor of political science at Sciences Po. Still close to The Republicans, it is particularly active before presidential campaigns. It publishes many studies and opinion surveys on topics as diverse as the state, the economy, the web, the young, the middle class or Muslims. Table 4 shows the distribution of the trustees, counsellors and main members of the 40 policy-planning organizations according to their main occupation. This categorization raises the problem of coding the numerous multi-positioned actors. I usually favour one occupation over another, when their main occupation is not clear. In particular, I favour the status of business leaders over the status of politician and the status of scholar over the status of columnist or consultant. These choices may therefore slightly over-represent the two first categories. As a result, scholars represent nearly a third of the population (236 out of 816), business leaders, lawyers and consultants a quarter (193), and politicians and senior officers a fifth (182). The remaining quarter includes NGO, trade union and religious leaders (11%), managers and employees (9%) and media professionals (5%). The share of media professionals is surprisingly low. It could translate a desire for discretion: they have no interest in displaying close ties to these organizations, which would harm their reputation for independence. Table 4. Main occupation of the trustees, counsellors and main members Total number Number of their appointments (total) Number of linkers Number of their appointments (linkers only) Scholars, managers of higher education organizations 236 269 24 57 Business leaders, lawyers, consultants 193 231 25 63 Politicians, senior officials 182 204 20 42 NGO or religious leaders, trade unionists 91 98 5 12 Managers, employees 71 73 2 4 Media (journalists, writers and so on) 43 48 4 9 Total 816 923 80 187 Total number Number of their appointments (total) Number of linkers Number of their appointments (linkers only) Scholars, managers of higher education organizations 236 269 24 57 Business leaders, lawyers, consultants 193 231 25 63 Politicians, senior officials 182 204 20 42 NGO or religious leaders, trade unionists 91 98 5 12 Managers, employees 71 73 2 4 Media (journalists, writers and so on) 43 48 4 9 Total 816 923 80 187 Table 4. Main occupation of the trustees, counsellors and main members Total number Number of their appointments (total) Number of linkers Number of their appointments (linkers only) Scholars, managers of higher education organizations 236 269 24 57 Business leaders, lawyers, consultants 193 231 25 63 Politicians, senior officials 182 204 20 42 NGO or religious leaders, trade unionists 91 98 5 12 Managers, employees 71 73 2 4 Media (journalists, writers and so on) 43 48 4 9 Total 816 923 80 187 Total number Number of their appointments (total) Number of linkers Number of their appointments (linkers only) Scholars, managers of higher education organizations 236 269 24 57 Business leaders, lawyers, consultants 193 231 25 63 Politicians, senior officials 182 204 20 42 NGO or religious leaders, trade unionists 91 98 5 12 Managers, employees 71 73 2 4 Media (journalists, writers and so on) 43 48 4 9 Total 816 923 80 187 A tenth of the sample is involved in several policy organizations. The appointments of the linkers, who bridge organizations in the network, represent a fifth of all appointments. Business leaders as well as scholars account for nearly a third of these linkers. This structural predominance of business leaders and scholars among linkers has a number of consequences. Firstly, the cohesion of the policy network mostly relies on interlocking business leaders and scholars. Secondly, the density among business leaders and among scholars is nearly twice as big as in the subnetworks of the remaining categories. Thirdly, this interlocks network reflects the relational closeness of these business leaders with politicians and economists. If the scientific discipline of the scholars is not systematically mentioned in the dataset, one can deduce from available information that most of them are economists, including nearly all the interlocking scholars. Among these linkers, the most central are Bernard Spitz (who has 44 ties with other linkers) and Jean Peyrelevade (42), followed by two economists, Jean-Hervé Lorenzi (39) and Jean Pisani-Ferry (39). All in all, they are connected to more than 200 trustees and counsellors across the whole policy-planning network. Their centrality in this network reflects their brokerage position in the field of power, connecting corporate, political and academic elites. This position may be explained by their career, which spans economic, political and intellectual fields. In the policy network, both Bernard Spitz and Jean Peyrelevade are members of more than three boards of trustees. Both of them belong to the corporate elite and mainly relate to the financial industry. But their career exceeds the economic and financial field. Members of the state nobility (Bourdieu, 1989), both participated in ministry cabinets at the beginning of their career, which means that they benefit from strong relations within the political elite, with senior civil servants as well as politicians. Both also wrote several books and taught at elite schools, such as Sciences Po and Polytechnique. Bernard Spitz,2 2 The following information is essentially drawn from Who’s Who in France and from the press. who was born in 1959 and graduated from Sciences Po, ESSEC Business School and ENA, has been chairman of the French Federation of Insurance Companies since 2008 and of the French Association of Insurance since 2014. His professional career spans different sectors. He was a cabinet member of the left-wing Prime Minister Michel Rocard (1988–1991). After various positions in public organizations, he held executive positions at Canal+, a TV channel, in 1990 and Vivendi Universal in the early 2000s, before founding his consulting firm BSConseil. He also served as a journalist and a columnist (Le Monde, L’Express and Libération), a producer of radio programmes at France Culture and a lecturer at Sciences Po. He has published a dozen books including two co-edited with Roger Fauroux, a former CEO of Saint-Gobain and co-founder of the Fondation Saint Simon. Beyond his appointments in the selected policy organizations (En Temps Réel, Terra Nova and Aspen France), he is a member of the Le Siècle club and chairs another policy organization, Les Gracques. En Temps Réel was founded in 2000 by former young senior officers of the Fondation Saint-Simon, just after it dissolved. This association, funded by private donations, organizes seminars and workshops with leading figures, often from the executive. It publishes studies on various topics such as Europe, banks, public services and globalization. In 2007, a group of former senior officers, members of the Socialist Party, signed a social-liberal manifesto ‘the manifesto of the Gracques for a modern Left’. After the election of Nicolas Sarkozy, they created this association to extend this action. They mainly organize conferences (called ‘Universités’), but they do not publicize their names. Le Siècle is an elite social club, created in 1944. It organizes a formal dinner each month with about 300 people from the field of power (see on this subject Denord et al., 2011; Denord and Lagneau-Ymonet, 2016). Jean Peyrelevade was born in 1939 and graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique and Sciences Po. He was the deputy head of Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy’s cabinet from 1981 to 1984, before being appointed as the CEO of Suez. He then joined the Banque Stern. He was appointed as CEO of the insurance company UAP in 1988 by Michel Rocard and CEO of Crédit Lyonnais in 1993 by the right-wing Prime Minister Edouard Balladur. Crédit Lyonnais was France’s largest bank in the early 1990s, but was nearly bankrupt due to excessive acquisitions and high-risk loans in the 1980s. The hazardous management of this state-owned bank led to the biggest financial scandal of the late 20th century in France. Jean Peyrelevade led this bank, bailed out by the state, for 10 years until its acquisition by Crédit Agricole. He taught for 8 years at the Ecole Polytechnique (1986–1994) and published several essays including Le capitalisme total in 2005. In 2008, he was elected as a city counsellor in the sixteenth arrondissement of Paris from a centrist party list, before resigning in 2009. He is currently a board member of several major French and European companies such as Bouygues, Saur and KLM. A former Saint-Simonian, he sits on seven boards of the selected policy agencies (Terra Nova, La République des idées,3 3 La République des Idées, a centre–left policy organization, is the second spin-off, with En Temps Réel, from the Fondation Saint Simon. It was created in 2002 by Pierre Rosanvallon, a historian appointed to the Collège de France in 2001. Its vice-chairman is Olivier Mongin, former director of the review Esprit (1988–2012), which has been involved in New Left movements since World War II. It mainly publishes a review, La Vie des Idées, and a collection of books with the publisher Le Seuil. Confrontations Europe,4 4 Confrontations Europe was created in 1991 by Philippe Herzog, together with Michel Rocard, Jean Peyrelevade, Jean-Christophe Le Duigou, former leader of the Communist Party and Jean-Pierre Brard, former member of parliament. Philippe Herzog is an economist, a former leader of the Communist Party (from which he resigned in 1996) and a former deputy at the European Parliament (1989–2004). He was also a member of the Conseil d’Analyse Économique (1997–2008) and special advisor to the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Financial Services Michel Barnier (2009–2014). Confrontation Europe is an association which organizes seminars and releases a review and position papers on issues such as EU economic policy, energy, employment policy for young people and so on. the Fondation Jean Jaurès,5 5 The Fondation Jean Jaurès, a foundation close to the Socialist Party, was created in 1992 by Pierre Mauroy, former Prime Minister of François Mitterrand. It is at once a policy organization, a training centre for politicians in developing countries, and a place where the archives of the Socialist Party are managed. Its director, Gilles Finchelstein, is a research director at Havas Worldwide, an advertising company. It publishes a newsletter and notes, and organizes seminars and conferences about social and economic issues, secularism, democracy and so on. IFRI,6 6 IFRI was created in 1979 by Thierry de Montbrial, an economist who taught at Polytechnique (1973–2008) and at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (1995–2008). It employs about 30 researchers. the Club des Vigilants7 7 The Club des Vigilants was created in 1999 by Marc Ullmann (1930–2014), a journalist who was a former member of the Club Jean Moulin and the Fondation Saint-Simon. It is an association, essentially funded by corporations, with a liberal orientation. It organizes breakfast debates and informal workshops on future changes to society. and Europartenaires8 8 Europartenaires was founded in 1994 and is co-chaired by Elisabeth Guigou, a member of the Socialist Party, member of the French parliament and former minister, together with Jean-Noël Jeanneney, historian, former professor at Sciences Po, former Secretary of state (1991–1993), former chairman of Radio France and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. It organizes breakfast debates, conferences and workshops mostly on EU policies. ). He is also a member of the Le Siècle club. Jean-Hervé Lorenzi is a professor of economics at the University of Paris-Dauphine, chairman of the Cercle des économistes, chairman of the supervisory board of the Edmond de Rothschild Group, board member of several other major companies (such as PagesJaunes and BNP Paribas Assurance), counsellor of the Institut Montaigne board and member of the Conseil d’Analyse Économique. His career spans the private and public sectors. In 1980–1981, he was an advisor of the executive committee of the Havas group, and then of several left-wing ministers, in particular Jean-Pierre Chevènement, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Edith Cresson. He also led several public (such as CNIT) and private (Gras Savoye) institutions. While economists’ conflicts of interest, particularly in relation to financial institutions, came in for particular attention and criticism after the subprime crisis,9 9 The documentary Inside Job is a good example. Jean Gadrey, an economist member of Association for the taxation of financial transactions and for citizens’ action (ATTAC, an anti-globalization organization created in 1998), wrote a post on his blog, ‘Dangerous Liaisons’, in 2009 about these conflicts of interest and focused on the cases of Jean-Hervé Lorenzi and Christian de Boissieu, chairman of the Conseil d’Analyse Économique. It started a vigorous debate among economists and beyond. The subprime crisis has more generally triggered an enduring controversy on the independence of economists, despite the creation of several codes of ethics. While Jean-Hervé Lorenzi has mainly advised banks as an economist, Jean Pisani-Ferry has mainly worked in public administration. Director of the CEPII from 1992 to 1997, he then became chief economic advisor to the Minister of Finance (1997–2000), executive president of the Conseil d’Analyse Économique (2001–2002) and senior advisor to the director of the Treasury (2002–2004). He has also held teaching posts at Polytechnique and Paris-Dauphine. In 2006–2007, he was president of the French economic association. Since 2005, he has been director of the Brussel-based economic think tank, Bruegel. He is also a member of the boards of Terra Nova, En Temps Réel, the Cercle des économistes and Notre Europe.10 10 It became the Institute Jacques Delors in 2012. It was indeed founded by Jacques Delors in 1996 to promote the EU and its action is still strongly inspired by his ideas. It produces notes and studies on various topics relating to the EU such as European institutions, intra-EU solidarity or EU–US relations. After 4 years at the head of France Stratégie, he resigned in 2017 in order to coordinate the economic program of the presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron. 4.2 The overlap between the corporate and extra-corporate networks From the boards of the top 100 French listed companies, 50 executive or non-executive directors are appointed to policy organizations as trustees or counsellors. This represents only 5% of the corporate board members in 2008. This number is relatively low in comparison to what could be found in other countries, for instance in the USA. The method we used was to construct each dataset separately and to compare them at the end. A more conventional method consists in starting from a list of individuals and to research their affiliations, which leads de facto to a greater number of ties. Not to mention the spelling errors that inevitably creep into datasets, despite all the checks. However, this share increases greatly among the interlockers of the corporate network. The probability of a corporate director being a trustee or a counsellor in a policy-planning agency is, for a director with two appointments in a large company, more than twice as high as a director with only one appointment and, for a director with at least three appointments, six times as high (see Table 5). The location in the inner circle is thus a good predictor of their involvement in the governance of policy-planning agencies. Table 5. Percentage of directors who served as a trustee or counsellor of a policy-planning agency by inner-circle location Number of large-company directorships Trustees or counsellors of a policy-planning agency (%) Number of directors on which figures are based One directorship 3.2 920 Two directorships 7.1 126 Three directorships and more 18.2 66 All 4.5 1112 Number of large-company directorships Trustees or counsellors of a policy-planning agency (%) Number of directors on which figures are based One directorship 3.2 920 Two directorships 7.1 126 Three directorships and more 18.2 66 All 4.5 1112 Table 5. Percentage of directors who served as a trustee or counsellor of a policy-planning agency by inner-circle location Number of large-company directorships Trustees or counsellors of a policy-planning agency (%) Number of directors on which figures are based One directorship 3.2 920 Two directorships 7.1 126 Three directorships and more 18.2 66 All 4.5 1112 Number of large-company directorships Trustees or counsellors of a policy-planning agency (%) Number of directors on which figures are based One directorship 3.2 920 Two directorships 7.1 126 Three directorships and more 18.2 66 All 4.5 1112 Below, I refer to members of both policy and corporate networks as the ‘interlockers’. The main member of this small caste is Michel Pébereau, the former chairman of BNP Paribas. In 2008, he is also a board member of several other top French companies (Axa, Saint Gobain, Lafarge and Total) as well as the chairman of the Institut de l’Entreprise and belongs to the governing bodies of Aspen France and Confrontations Europe. He stands in the most central position in both the corporate and policy networks of the 50 interlockers. He is connected to 12 of them with corporate ties and 23 with policy ties, with an overlap of only four directors. He is therefore directly linked to three-fifths of these interlockers, but certainly with most of them thanks to other ties unobserved here. Michel Pébereau was born in 1942. He graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique and the ENA, and then chose the ‘Inspection des finances’, one of the most prestigious grand corps. After chairing the Club de Paris, a group of officials from major creditor countries whose role is to reschedule debt service for debtor countries, he participated in the ministry cabinets of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (1970–1974) and of René Monory (1978–1981), Ministers of the Economy and Finance. He led Crédit Commercial de France (1982–1993) and BNP (1993–2003) before ‘withdrawing’ to chair the latter’s board. Under his leadership, BNP underwent major transformation, including its privatization and the acquisition of Paribas and Fortis among others, making it the leading bank in the euro zone. Besides the five cited appointments, he is also a director of EADS, Pargesa Holding SA, BNP Paribas Switzerland and a censor (i.e. a controller) on the Galeries Lafayette board. He chaired the French Banking Association. He serves on the executive board of Medef. He has taught for over 20 years at Sciences Po and has been the chairman of its board since 1988. He has also participated in the High Council of Education since 2005 and been a member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences since 2007. Michel Pébereau may be considered as one of the most influential corporate leaders in France. 4.3 The policy-planning network Despite their heterogeneity, most policy-planning agencies are rather well integrated thanks to interlocks. Among the isolated, we find organizations relating to the extremes of the political spectrum such as the Carrefour de l’Horloge (created in 1974 as the Club de l’Horloge, most of whose leaders have been part of the Front National, the nationalist and populist party of the Le Pen family, since the 1980s) or very specialized organizations, such as the Forum Carolus (founded in 2005 to promote the city of Strasbourg and its area), the Institut Paul Delouvrier (an association created in 1998, which has released a yearly opinion survey on public services since 2004) and the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS, based in Paris with a liaison office in Brussels, dedicated to the development of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU). All the 35 remaining organizations are interlocked. Beyond its connectedness, the main feature of the network resides in its hierarchy, with a rather cohesive core and a somewhat disconnected periphery. Half of the organizations are connected to at least four others: they may be considered as the network core. While the density of the network is 10%, the density inside this core is 50%. The density refers to the ratio of the number of observed ties to the maximum number of possible ties. It is noteworthy that this structure complies with the core-periphery structure of the transnational policy-planning network (Carroll and Sapinski, 2010). Two organizations are particularly central in the network: Terra Nova and the Institut Aspen France, which are, respectively, connected to 17 and 16 other organizations through at least one common trustee or counsellor. Terra Nova was founded in 2008, after the election of Nicolas Sarkozy, by Olivier Ferrand, a former adviser of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin between 1997 and 2002. Close to the Socialist Party, it is intended to renew its ideological matrix [see on this topic Pautz (2012) for a comparison between the UK and Germany between 1992 and 2005 on the role of think tanks in the reform of the British Labour party and the Social Democratic Party of Germany]. It has swiftly gained significant influence: its numerous reports have been broadly publicized in media outlets such as Le Monde and Libération, two major newspapers, and it was named French Think Tank of the Year by the Observatory of Think Tanks and the Assembly of French Chambers of Commerce and Industry in 2011 and 2012. The Institut Aspen France was founded earlier, in 1983. It belongs to the network of the Aspen Institute, founded in Aspen, Colorado, in 1949 by a Chicago businessman Walter Paepcke. In 1994, Raymond Barre, former Prime Minister of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, Aspen France’s chairman and member of parliament for the Rhône area, located it in Lyon, where it remained for a long time before being relocated to Paris. Non-partisan, this policy organization principally aims at being a forum where influential leaders from business, media, political and academic spheres can meet and set a common agenda. It has organized training sessions for young political leaders each year since 2006; several went on to become members of parliament or ministers. Such high centralities result from divergent relational strategies. Terra Nova undertakes an expansive strategy: its governing bodies include many more members than any other organization (134). The Institut Aspen France has a more selective strategy. It also has numerous members in its governing boards (56), but the latter usually sit on the board of at least one other policy organization. At this point it should be pointed out that the connectedness of this network is reinforced by many other interlinkages. Indeed, policy-planning agencies cultivate various other relationships. Organizations share common funders: first of all the state, but large industrial and financial groups also often simultaneously fund several policy-planning agencies. From the data available on contributors, they most frequently cite the financial institutions BNP Paribas and Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and the energy companies Total, Areva and EDF. Moreover, their leaders often know each other, belong to the same social circles and attend the meetings of each other’s organizations. They also combine their resources to organize events together (such as the European Forum of Think Tanks11 11 The forum was organized by Notre Europe in 2008 in partnership with Aspen France and Fondapol and in 2012 in partnership with the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik and the Agence Europe. ). This intense collaboration, which mainly takes place inside the network core, may suggest that these organizations try to join forces so as to institutionalize and legitimize their activity and impose their views. This is also exemplified by the resources that they dedicate to scrutinize their own field, with studies (e.g. the 2004 study of Notre Europe) or benchmarking (e.g. the instrument panel created on the web by the Fondation Res Publica12 12 The Fondations Res Publica was created in 2005 by Jean-Pierre Chevènement, former minister, who is a partisan of French sovereignty and has in particular claimed to be opposed to the Maastricht Treaty. ). 4.4 Network polarization Figure 1 is a topographical map of the policy-planning network. The position of organizations within this two-dimensional space is based on a MDS algorithm. The distance between any two organizations is proportional to the inverse of their interlock score: they are close to those with which they have the greatest board overlap and further from those with which they have little or no board overlap. The contour lines on the map represent the results of a hierarchical clustering analysis, which yields five main clusters. The fifth cluster, which gathers the network periphery, is not displayed on the map for better clarity: all the 17 corresponding organizations would stick together in the centre of the map. The topographical map shows a relative polarization of the network by political orientation and by specialization. The results of the hierarchical clustering yield rather coherent clusters given both dimensions, except the fifth cluster. Indeed, the peripheral cluster gathers heterogeneous organizations according to their political position or their specialization. They differentiate from the other four clusters either because they defend more radical views or because they are specialized in very specific issues, which may explain that they are pushed to the periphery of the network. It comprises militant organizations, such as the Fondation Copernic, which was created in 1998 by Jacques Kergoat, a historian of the labour movement, in order to resist the ascendency inside the left-wing of social liberal thinking (promoted by the Fondation Saint Simon at that time) and non-consensual organizations, such as the Fondation Gabriel Péri, which was created in 2004 on the initiative of the Communist Party, and the Carrefour de l’Horloge at the far right. It also includes organizations specialized in specific issues, such as Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), a foundation partnering with Sciences Po, which is dedicated to environmental issues and global governance. In contrast, the four other clusters are more homogeneous and generally comply with the neoliberal consensus given slight variations (Jobert and Théret 1994). In broad outline, the cluster at the lower right of the map relates to French grand strategy and includes organizations specialized in defence and strategy issues [Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS), IRIS], international relations (CERI), the EU (Robert Schuman Foundation) or the promotion of French firms abroad (Institut Choiseul, Institut Aspen France). FRS was created in 1993 by Pierre Joxe, former minister and close adviser of François Mitterrand. It works for many institutions, but foremost for the Ministry of Defence. The French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS) was created in 1990 by Pascal Boniface, former advisor of Pierre Joxe and Jean-Pierre Chevènement, while they were Ministers of Defence, and is still managed by him. It claims to be the only important policy organization in this area established independently from the state. It is one of the only French policy organizations with IFRI to be highly ranked by the Global Go to Think Tank index of the University of Pennsylvania. Established in 1952, the Centre for International Studies (CERI) is an important research centre jointly run by Sciences Po and CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research), with about 60 permanent researchers and more than 100 PhD students. Its expertise relates primarily to the Muslim world, followed by Latin American, Asian, East European and African studies. The Robert Schuman Foundation was founded in 1991 after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is established in Paris and Brussels and produces studies on European policies. Close to centrist parties, it is devoted to promoting European values and ideals. The Institut Choiseul pour la politique internationale et la géoécononomie was founded in 1997 by Pascal Lorot, whose career spans the private (BNP, Total) and public sectors (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, cabinet of Finance Minister Edmond Alphandéry, Regulatory Commission of Energy) after starting out at IFRI. It publishes the Géoéconomie review and the Choiseul 100 ranking of young economic leaders. The cluster at the upper left gathers organizations which advocate a liberal agenda, such as the Institut de l’Entreprise, which is the name adopted in 1975 by the Centre de Recherche et d’Études des Chefs d’Entreprise (CRC), created in 1953 on the initiative of CNPF. Its chairmen, such as Didier Pineau-Valencienne (1993–1995), Bertrand Collomb (1996–2001) and Michel Pébereau (2005–2010), have been leading figures in the business community. This policy organization is alleged to be one of the most influential (Daumas, 2010, pp. 1040–1044): it provides analyses and proposals to all employer associations, while claiming to be independent. Its favourite issues are public spending, taxes, education and research. The Institut Turgot is a liberal think tank created in 2003 by Jacques Raiman and Pascal Salin, both members of the Mont Pelerin Society (which was created in 1947 by Friedrich von Hajek to promote liberalism), and Henri Lepage, an economist who published books publicizing Hajek’s work. Most organizations of the upper right cluster take centre–right positions, while those of the cluster at the lower left take centre–left positions. In conclusion, the topographical map and the hierarchical clustering suggest that the strength of the board overlaps reflect an ideological proximity. The more similar their values are, the greater the number of trustees and counsellors they share. Which kind of policy-planning organizations are most promoted by corporate directors? To answer this question, I analyse the distribution of the corporate directors’ appointments in the various clusters of policy organizations (see Figure 1). This distribution differs from the distribution of the inner circle’s appointments. Whatever the directors’ location in the corporate circles, the share of their appointments remain stable as far as the grand strategy and centre–right clusters (about 20% in each) as well as the peripheral cluster (5%) are concerned. However, among the corporate directors, there is a preference for the policy organizations of the centre–left cluster with two-fifths of their appointments as trustees or counsellors against one-sixth in the liberal cluster. In the inner circle, in contrast, the preference is towards the latter cluster (about 30% of its members’ appointments) rather than towards the centre–left cluster (25%). 5. Conclusion These analyses confirm the central position of a small minority of multi-positioned business leaders in the structure of the policy-planning network. Some directors of top companies do significantly contribute to the cohesion and hierarchy of the policy-planning network. In this network, one linker out of five is a director of at least one large corporation, and including one of these directors in its governing bodies improves the influence capacity of a policy organization. The greater the number of these directors in its governing bodies, the higher its betweenness centrality13 13 This measure is based on the number of paths that pass through a node. in the policy network (the Pearson correlation coefficient is 0.83). But the results also underline the central role of a few economists. Further investigations on these economists14 14 I stress the role of economists, because they are by far the most numerous. But a few social scientists may play a role, in particular political scientists such as Bruno Tertrais, Pascal Boniface and Christophe Jaffrelot, who are specialized in international relations. would shed more light on the regulation process in the policy network. Its structure suggests a coalition between business leaders and economists in order to promote their own picture of reality and the subsequent public policies which may arise from it. In this alliance, the economists may play the role of translators, by transforming the private interests of large corporations into public interest issues. The main characteristics of this network reside in its core-periphery structure, which is even more obvious when more policy-planning organizations are included in the analysis. In this paper, I only integrated the most important policy organizations, which are nearly all interconnected. In an extended set of organizations, it appears more clearly that the least integrated organizations are generally related to extremist, activist or minority rights movements. Ideology does impact the network structure, but the left–right polarization is weaker than the centrifugal forces towards organizations with non-consensual positions. Whatever the basis of their criticisms (feminism, anti-globalization, ultra-liberalism, xenophobia, etc.), these policy organizations, dissonant with the ideological status quo based on the neo-liberal reformism promoted by the inner circle, are relegated to the periphery, if not ignored or banned. The core-periphery structure is in particular underpinned by the interlocking role played by the members of the inner circle. It translates their ideological cohesion based on a liberal agenda. In the 2000s and 2010s, the faction of the French corporate elite advocating such an agenda has clearly won against the conservative and nationalist ‘old guard’ (Maclean, 2002). Their structural cohesion reinforces their ideological cohesion through group think. Furthermore, their investment in policy-planning organizations enables them to significantly influence policy-making and the direction the country takes as a whole. These results also shed light on the continuity of public policies, whatever the changes in executive power, by highlighting the hegemonic position of a ruling core related to the most powerful financial institutions. Useem (1984) observed in the 1980s that the members of the inner circle in the USA and the UK had usually more moderate positions than business leaders as a whole (p. 113). They cultivated an attitude of compromise: ‘Sometimes termed “corporate liberalism,” this attitude is rooted not in a commitment of reform, nor in an enlightened acceptance of labor and government opponents, but rather in the recognition that the entire community and the future of the private economy will best prosper if it assumes a posture of compromise’ (Useem, 1984, p. 114). Given the current ideological cohesion of the French inner circle, they should on the contrary be less prone to compromise. This was particularly clear in 2016 with the social movement in response to the El Khomri Law, which aimed at reforming labour laws. The social movement escalated into violence and the government refused to negotiate. Acknowledgements I am grateful to François Denord, Johanna Edelbloude, Alexis Ferrand, Delio Lucena Piquero, Marta Varanda and Nathalie del Vecchio for their suggestions on previous versions of the paper. References Angeletti T. 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Socio-Economic Review – Oxford University Press
Published: Nov 17, 2017
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