Defence Industry

homepageImage_en_US.jpg2 | Article | Faure Samuel B.H., Joltreau Thibaut, Smith Andy. 2019. The Differentiated Integration of Defence Companies in Europe. A Sociology of (Trans)National Economic Elites. European Review of International Studies. 6 (2) : 135-162.

Abstract – Why has European integration affected some of Europe’s defence firms more than others? Specifically, what explains the co-existence of national, transnational and European champions in this industry? This article develops answers to this question from two complementary angles. First, through examining the business models and turnover of the four largest companies in Europe (BAe Systems, Airbus, Thales, and Leonardo), it shows that firms who mostly produce military goods are less likely to undergo strong European integration. Second, using an original database on the social backgrounds of these firms’ board members, two further hypotheses are tested. Using data on higher education and careers, on the one hand we show that the relationship of board members to their respective state varies from close (Thales and to some extent Airbus) to distant (BAe Systems and Leonardo). On the other, our data reveals that when the careers of these actors are frequently internationalised, this correlates to either strong European integration at the level of the firm (Airbus and Thales) or, alternatively, strong Transatlanticism (BAe Systems or Leonardo). The article as a whole thus both opens up new avenues for research on the defence industry, whilst adding political economy and sociological dimensions to existing scholarship on differentiated European integration.


1 | Article | Faure Samuel B.H., Joltreau Thibaut, Smith Andy. 2019. Qui gouverne les grandes entreprises de la défense ? Contribution sociologique à l’étude des capitalismes en France et aux Royaume-Uni. Revue internationale de politique comparée. 26 (1): 11-45.

Résumé – Cet article apporte une contribution sociologique à la comparaison des capitalismes en France et au Royaume-Uni. Pour ce faire, le rapport à l’État, l’internationalisation et la financiarisation des trajectoires professionnelles des dirigeants de grandes entreprises de l’industrie de la défense (Safran, Thales, BAe Systems et Rolls-Royce) sont interrogés. La controverse entre convergence et divergence des capitalismes nationaux de la défense est dépassée par le dévoilement d’une réalité contre-intuitive et inattendue, à savoir leur simultanéité. En même temps que les pratiques des dirigeants des grandes entreprises des deux côtés de la Manche sont plus structurées que jadis par l’internationalisation de leur formation et leur familiarité avec le monde financier, leur rapport à l’État demeure nettement différent.

Abstract – This article seeks to make a sociological contribution to the study of capitalism in France and Britain. In view of this, we analyze major defense industry company managers’ relationships to the State, and the internationalization and financialization of their careers (Safran, Thales, BAe Systems and Rolls-Royce). We go beyond the dispute between the convergence and divergence of national defense capitalisms, by unveiling a counter-intuitive and unexpected reality, namely their simultaneity. Specifically, on both sides of the English Channel, the practices of these large company directors have become more structured than hitherto by the internationalization of their training and their knowledge of finance, while at the same time, their relationship to the state has changed profoundly.