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4.5 Program for the Study of Germany and Europe

Knowledge-Bearing Elites & Industrial Performance in France & Germany


Most comparative studies of public policies for competitiveness focus on the links among public agencies and industrial sectors. This paper argues that the professions---or knowledge-bearing elites-that animate these organizational links are equally significant. For public policies to promote technological advance, the visions and self-images of knowledge-bearing elites are par­ ticularly important. By examining administrative and technical elites in France and Germany in the 1980s, the paper identifies characteristics that enable these elites to implement policy in some cases, but not in others. France's "state-created" elites were well-positioned to initiate and implement large technology projects, such as digitizing the telecommunications network. Germany's state-recognized elites were, by contrast, better positioned to facilitate framework­ oriented programs that aimed at the diffusion of new technologies throughout industry. The linkages among administrative and technical elites also explain why French policymakers had difficulty adapting policy to changing circumstances over time while German policymakers managed in many cases to learn more from previous policy experiences and to adapt subse­ quent initiatives accordingly.