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The response of EU trade dependent firms to the globalization backlash

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Publication details

JournalEuropean Journal of International Management
DateAccepted/In press - 6 Mar 2021
Original languageEnglish


This paper seeks to expand our understanding of Corporate Political Activity (CPA) in trade policy by exploring the strategic responses of EU trade dependent firms (TDFs) to the recent backlash against globalization. We develop propositions on likely corporate strategies in this context and explore them in the EU. Our empirical focus is on four cases of trade policy changes over the period 2016-19 which reduced, or threatened to reduce, openness in different ways and with varying sectoral impacts. Propositions were explored through the analysis of public actions by TDFs and their associations, as well as 26 interviews. We find that few EU TDFs mobilized independently against protectionism. Rather, they overwhelmingly worked through their trade associations. Furthermore, the extent to which sectoral associations mobilized together or alone varied depending on the issue area and nature of the threats. We find limited evidence of trans-national lobbying or mobilization with civil society groups beyond the specific issue of Brexit.

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