Scientific article
Open access

The power and limits of expertise: Swiss–Swedish linking of vehicle emission standards in the 1970s and 1980s

Published inBusiness and politics, vol. 24, no. 3, p. 241-260p.
Publication date2022-03-04
First online date2022-03-04


Recent decades have witnessed increased public concern about vehicle emissions and growing frustration with political inaction and business preferences for the status quo. This article provides historical perspective on such regulatory dynamics by analyzing the Swiss and the Swedish cases of vehicle emission governance in the1970s-1980s. Relying on archival documents detailing the policy process in both countries as well as on international regulatory arenas, the analysis focuses on political solutions for reducing the toxicity of vehicle emissions. It uncovers the influence of national as well as international business groups and the existence of the tension between various national ministries, arising from conflicting environmental and trade-related goals. Is also highlights the importance of different institutional settings in creating the expertise to explain the political outcomes. While the Swiss corporatist system gave a great deal of power to a variety of interest groups at each stage of the political process, the Swedish government invested significant resources in the creation of independent expertise and enjoyed a relative autonomy, despite the importance of the Swedish car industry. The analysis also assesses the importance of the Swiss–Swedish collaboration in overcoming certain obstacles and their contribution to the implementation of stricter regulations in Europe that ultimately occurred at the margins of the European Economic Community.

  • Business power
  • Car industry
  • Vehicle emissions
  • Expertise
  • environmental standards
Citation (ISO format)
NÄSMAN, Mattias, PITTELOUD, Sabine. The power and limits of expertise: Swiss–Swedish linking of vehicle emission standards in the 1970s and 1980s. In: Business and politics, 2022, vol. 24, n° 3, p. 241–260p. doi: 10.1017/bap.2022.3
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1369-5258

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