Redefining the Rules of the Economic Game
New Horizons in Institutional and Evolutionary Economics series
Edited by Marie-Laure Djelic and Sigrid Quack
Chapter 3: Building up an Asset Management Industry: Forays of an Anglo-Saxon Logic into the French Business System
Thibaut Kleiner INTRODUCTION The French asset management industry is an interesting case of business system dynamics, where institutional change at the national level comes through an interplay with transnational actors and a foreign logic. The story of that industry makes it clear that individuals may take initiatives to escape from the constraints of their national institutions. They can do so in particular by creating and structuring new spaces that will operate with radically different rules. Through both ‘trickle-up’ and ‘trickle-down’ trajectories (Djelic and Quack, in the conclusion to this volume), challenger rules coming from Anglo-Saxon countries progressively penetrated the French asset management business until they were eventually adopted by local actors and became the dominant rules of the game. The business system perspective maintains that economic behaviour and dominant national institutions develop inter-dependencies, so that at the national level recurrent patterns may be observed (Whitley 1991, 1999). Thus global economic change will not cause national specificities to dilute or disappear in a global uniformity. Rather those specificities will be supported and possibly reinforced by institutional dependency and international specialization (Soskice et al. 1992; Crouch and Streeck 1997; Hall and Soskice 2001; Hollingsworth and Boyer 1998; Whitley 1999; Whitley and Kristensen 1996, 1997). The French asset management industry, however, tells a somewhat different story. The activity of managing assets and funds used to be organized in France along what can be called here typically French patterns. But over a short period of time, starting around 1996, this sector experienced radical change...
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