When starting their project on the ‘Organization of Business Interests’ in the early 1980s, Philippe Schmitter and Wolfgang Streeck conceptualized business interest associations (BIAs) as being confronted with two different sets of opposite logics: on the one hand, BIAs would face the juxtaposition between the ‘logic of influence’ and the ‘logic of membership’. On the other hand, Schmitter and Streeck also saw BIAs challenged by finding a position between the ‘logic of effective implementation’ and the ‘logic of goal formation’. When combining the extremes of the two dichotomies, Schmitter and Streeck showed that BIAs would become similar to: governments (logic of influence and logic of effective implementation); firms (logic of membership and logic of effective implementation); movements (logic of influence and logic of goal formation); clubs (logic of membership and logic of goal formation).
While this conceptual framework sounds convincing, there have never been systematic operationalizations and/or conceptualizations of the two abovementioned dichotomies.
In line with this, the workshop focuses on the conceptualization and the operationalization of Schmitter’s and Streeck’s dichotomies. We think that their conceptual framework could be applicable to all kinds of interest groups. Thus, if we are able to locate every interest group with regard to every dichotomy, we will also be able to say in how far a single group comes close to the ideal types of governments, firms, movements, and clubs. This takes up ideas of (fuzzy) property spaces as developed in some more recent approaches in social science methodology.
Such an analysis of ideal types can then also lead to an analysis of national interest group systems in comparative perspective. More in detail, we hypothesize a linkage between the relative predominance, in a particular interest group system, of a particular ideal type, and the characteristics of that interest group system as a whole.