Edited By Danièle Fraboulet-Rousselier, Andrea Maria Locatelli and Paolo Tedeschi
The Genesis of the Swiss Business Interest Associations (1860-1914) (Cédric Humair)
31 The Genesis of Swiss Business Interest Associations (1860-1914) Cédric HUMAIR Université de Lausanne Introduction On the eve of the First World War the Swiss economy was criss- crossed by a dense network of Business Interest Associations (henceforth BIAs), which were deployed at the local, cantonal and national level1. Guaranteeing the coordination of this set of heterogeneous constituent elements, five peak associations enabled the employers to effectively influence the actions of the central state, thereby responding to the main function of these associations. However, nothing presaged such a development in 1860. Among the agricultural, handicrafts and trading societies existing at that time, none had as yet acquired a national dimension. How and why did business circles manage to institute this extremely dense enmeshing of associations and societies, thus conferring a high level of organisation on Swiss companies? The aim of this contribution is to respond to this question by inscribing it within economic and political developments at the national and international scale, and by underlining the specificity of this shift to organised capitalism in Switzerland2. 1 For an overview of Swiss BIAs, see Gruner, E., Die Wirtschaftsverbände in der Demokratie. Vom Wachstum der Wirtschaftsorganisationen im schweizerischen Staat, Erlenbach-Zürich/Stuttgart, Eugen Rentsch Verlag, 1956; Meynaud, J., Les organisations professionnelles en Suisse, Lausanne, Payot, 1963; Humair, C., Guex, S., Mach, A., Eichenberger, P., “Les organisations patronales suisses entre coordina- tion économique et influence politique. Bilan historiographique et pistes de recherche”, in Vingtième Siècle. Revue d’histoire, 2012, n. 115,...
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