Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1979

Published In

International Organization


The international political economy of the West in the future will be greatly influenced by the public policies of different major industries and by the political conflicts between them. This is not a new phenomenon, however. Major industries have had an important impact upon the domestic politics and foreign policies of major Western nations since the beginning of the industrial revolution. The political consequences of the growth and decline phases of three leading industrial sectors in these nations-textiles, steel, and automobiles are examined. The historical evolution of these industries is interpreted with the use of Raymond Vernon's concept of the product cycle. In their respective eras, the product cycles of the textile, steel, and automobile industries have had an impact upon such political outcomes as the rise of the liberal state in the nineteenth century, the "new imperialism" of the 1880s, the Anglo-German naval race before World War I, the coming of Hitler to power in 1933, and the political stability of the Western democracies after World War II. Political conflicts between major industries are likely to continue to have major consequences in the future.


This work is freely available courtesy of Cambridge University Press.