Accueil > English Supplement > Volume 51, Supplement 1 > Because the market says so. Brokers and managers in the electricity (...)

Because the market says so. Brokers and managers in the electricity industry - D. Lorrain

Dominique Lorrain
Centre d’études des mouvements sociaux (CEMS), CNRS–EHESS, 54, boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris, France

Available online 23 February 2009 on <a href=

The role played in the electricity industry by the finance industry has received too little attention in research on the liberalization of technical networks. Three arguments are brought forward. First of all, despite any rational argumentation, these intermediaries must be seen as ordinary actors with their interests, constraints and cognitive limits. Secondly, they have played an important part in transforming what used to be a tightly regulated industry. Their power mainly derives from their ability to influence the definition of the “right” policies and the production of information prior to decision-making. It takes the concrete form of an oligopoly power over two basic steps : big operations in the capital market and the ability to make comparisons between firms, sectors and countries and thus recommend the “right” allocation of resources. Thirdly, this quite real power does not have mechanical effects on utilities since it also reflects a state of equilibrium within the firm, as the case of Suez proves. The relation between markets and firms is more interactive that it seems at first glance.

Keywords : Utilities ; Finance industry ; Brokers ; Securities firms ; Private equity ; Suez ; Power to influence ; Rationality ; Calculations

Article Outline

  • 1. A highly concentrated industry
  • 2. Market consensus and back again
    • 2.1. Expand to survive
    • 2.2. Back to the core business
  • 3. The work of brokers
    • 3.1. Valuing firms
    • 3.2. Reducing risk through consensus
    • 3.3. A non-material economy
    • 3.4. Making deals
  • 4. Managers and the finance industry : the case of Suez
    • 4.1. What the markets demand
    • 4.2. The interplay of managers and market
  • 5. Conclusion
  • References

Sociologie du Travail
Volume 51, Supplement 1, June 2009, Pages e49–e66
Translation by Karen George