Brief History of the Group
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Business and trade associations are the most common types of economic interest groups. The US Chamber of Commerce is under the umbrella of business associations and made up of over 160 of their chief executive officers of the largest industrial, commercial and financial businesses in the country (Gitelson, Dudley and Dubnick 223). These associations represent some of the most powerful interests of corporate America. The United States Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1912 by a group of leading municipal chambers and trade associations. The interest group represents a wide range of business interests in a given city or state (Boyer and Dubofsky 111). It is often led by bankers, realtors and representatives of other service industries. Boyer and Dubofsky say that the United States Chamber of Commerce was less confrontational than other organizations and it encouraged its members to accommodate to changing patterns of labor relations and political regulation (111).
The United States Chamber of Commerce cooperated closely with the federal government in mobilizing the economy for World War I. Boyer and Dubofsky say that “the United States Chamber of Commerce initially attempted to work with the New Deal but like the larger business community that it represented grew increasingly disenchanted with many of Roosevelt policies” (111). While the United States Chamber of Commerce took part in the post-war business backlash against the New Deal, it also acted as a leading business advocate for a limited welfare state built on public spending and the politics of growth. Boyer and Dubofsky also noted that after the 1930s, the US Chamber of Commerce was led by a loose coalition of internationalists, shippers, exporters, bankers and natural resource interests (111).
Policy it Attempts to Influence
Countries under Anglo-American legal system do not have extraordinary law on chambers of commerce which belong to the group of legal persons in private law (Yuwen 39). The chamber of commerce tries to establish an idea of any enterprise or private person without the need for obtaining endorsement by a government department. Industrial and commercial enterprises are free to join or withdraw from a chamber of commerce. It should also be noted that a chamber of commerce is free to choose its own functions and tasks and is entirely reliant on membership fees, service fees and voluntary donations for its operation.
US laws provides for policies and treatments relating to chambers of commerce. One of the major functions of the chambers of commerce is that they take part in policy lobbying, promoting legislation, and giving momentum to the development of an industry by publishing pertinent statistics and setting industrial standards. Yuwen says that “the US Chamber of Commerce also harmonizes prices; takes part in anti-dumping actions in international trade and at the same time offers various consultative and training services for members” (39). The US Chamber of Commerce aims to encourage the free development and competition of industrial and commercial enterprise and uphold their lawful rights and interests.
The US Chamber of Commerce policy insists that an independent administrative agency should fix the tariff rates within the limits of such guiding principles. The state level chambers of commerce establish, maintain and support facilities conducive to the development of industry and individual commerce. The group plays a major role in the registration process and alteration the registration of firms. The US Chamber of Commerce participates in enterprise bankruptcy mediation procedures and even intervenes in clearance sales of firms. Yuwen says that members of a Chamber of Commerce as industrial commercial enterprises share the cost of the chamber by paying taxes and registration fee (39). The operation of the chamber remains under the supervision of the government and some of its decisions are the subject to approval by federal government (Gitelson, Dudley and Dubnick 223).
Tools and Tactics
One of the major tools used by this interest group is the influence of its size. This tool enables the group to influence various government organs and departments to push its agenda. Corporate interest groups that are not membership organizations and trade associations generally have relatively few members and, therefore, they should not pay much attention to membership size (Gitelson, Dudley and Dubnick 219). The US Chamber of Commerce can persuade elected representatives, administrators, and congressional staff that they can marshal their membership behind a policy hence size becomes very significant (Gitelson, Dudley and Dubnick 219). One of the major tools used by the Chamber of Commerce is to lobby with facts (Gitelson, Dudley and Dubnick 221). On the other hand, money counts although it is only one of the many tools used by the interest group to influence the government.
Another important tactic used by the group is unity. The chamber of commerce group’s power is strongly influenced by the unity of its members. When there is no unity on an issue, its control on the policymaking process drops significantly, even if the chamber’s interest is fundamental. The size and unity of the US Chambers of Commerce does not necessarily ensure success. Gitelson, Dudley and Dubnick say that the group has leaders who command reverence and who can articulate and stand for the issues and demands of the industry (220). Without such leadership, the chamber of commerce is headless and more often than is not ineffective in pushing its goals and objectives.
Success of the Group Based on its Tactics
Faced with the need to make decisions on a range of issues, the group should have credible and trustworthy information. The chamber of commerce that can present its expertise cogently and convincingly has a distinct advantage over less informed and less articulate organizations. The US Chamber of Commerce success is based on the effectiveness of its expertise. The success of the group is also grounded on the execution of its mandates and the perception of the groups motives. Gitelson, Dudley and Dubnick also say that the US Chamber of Commerce receives dues from their corporate and individual members. Many companies use corporate funds to cover the cost of maintaining the US Chamber of Commerce.
Despite the fact the chamber of commerce is challenged effectively by various organizations, other interest groups can have a significant impact on the influence and power of the US Chamber of Commerce. Gitelson, Dudley and Dubnick say that in effect the larger and more powerful the countervailing forces are, the less power an opposing interest group will have (221). Lack of countervailing forces can give the US Chamber of Commerce with a monopoly in influencing the policies and programs linked with it.
The US Chamber of Commerce is successful as a result of its size, unity, leadership, expertise and funds (Gitelson, Dudley and Dubnick 221). The US Chamber of Commerce should not have all of the tools and tactics to be successful, but the more it has the better. More often than not, success of the US Chamber of Commerce comes from effectively combining the group’s resources and the tactics used to influence policymaking. The US Chamber of Commerce has over the time proven itself as a source of dependable information. Gitelson, Dudley and Dubnick say that the chamber of commerce success emanates from sharing its expertise at congressional hearings, presenting research or technical information or discussing the impact of a bill on national, state or local interests (223).
In conclusion, the US Chamber of Commerce functions within the law. The US Congress has found it necessary from time to time to pass laws regulating these groups and their representatives. On the basis of its relationship with the government, the US Chamber of Commerce operations and actions are governed by the rule that they should uphold honesty. The success of the group comes from knowing and addressing important and critical concerns of the business and trade industry.
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