Britain has a fragmented, overlapping, and underresourced system of business representation. Attempts at reform, however, have proved difficult and largely unsuccessful. A coherent and logical system is relevant, in terms of both an effective dialogue between government and business, and the promotion of competitiveness and productivity. Through interviews and archival evidence, I look at how government has attempted to reform business associations. The main focus is the Heseltine initiatives of the 1990s: I outline the various initiatives taken, reveal the extent to which policy represented continuity or change, and consider whether the initiatives were effective. I show that they had a degree of success but that they would have made greater impact if they had been sustained over a longer period of time. A consideration of the historical context, moreover, suggests there may be limits to the role of government intervention in business association reform
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