Over at Albert Alcove, nse wrote in response to my post:
I agree with you, absolutely. There are definitely a wide range of issues on which business can have a unified position; but ‘business’ cannot accurately be described as a single actor in most cases.
Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about: an American firm is currently trying to acquire the space technology arm of Canadian firm MDA. The Canadian government, however, is considering whether or not the sale should be allowed to proceed. If it blocks the sale, in whose interests was it acting? Under most circumstances, the government welcomes American direct investment. The Canadian company also wants to sell its space industry to the American firm. Can the Canadian government, if it blocks the sale, be said to be operating in the interest of business?
Now, consider also the fact that the Canadian government, through R&D grants and programmes, has funded the development of several of MDA’s key space products. Obviously, funding these projects benefits MDA, so the government could accurately be described as supporting business interest in this case. However, by blocking the sale, the government is in effect trying to safeguard the investment it has made, on behalf of the Canadian people, in the business. I would describe this as the government acting in the national economic interest. The funding of MDA’s space programme, and subsequent (possible) blocking of the sale to the US firm, is an example of a government acting in the interest of (a?) business when there is a confluence with the national interest.
Now, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the current Government actually allowed the sale to proceed, as the Conservative Party is a proponent of ‘laissez-faire’ economic ideology.