Chapter 1: Introduction - the FIA, and the analytical framework
Less known than the FIFA and the IOC, the FIA nevertheless share with them several characteristics as an organisation. To provide the reader with an introduction to the FIA and its reach, and to this project as a whole, chapter one will address the current state of the FIA and why a book like this is a contribution to this field. Existing literature about the FIA and its place in the landscape of ISAs will be reviewed, and the research framework, data and methods, which this book builds upon, will be unfolded. First, I will provide a backdrop of the formation of the FIA in 1945 with reference to the role of the car industry, the development of championships (Grand Prix), and the commercialisation of motorsport. Notable episodes include the formation of Commission Sportive Internationale (CSI) in 1922, and the establishment of the European Drivers' Championship in 1931. Second, I will introduce the theoretical and methodological framework of this book. To analyse the FIA's development, historical sociology is used as point of departure. Skocpol (1984, p. 1) argues that researchers this field have four characteristics: first, they ask questions about social structures and processes understood to be concretely situated in time and space. Second, they address processes over time, and take temporal sequences seriously in accounting for outcomes. Third, these analyses attend to the interplay of meaningful actions and structural contexts, and finally, this kind of studies highlight the particular and varying features of specific kinds of social structures and patterns of change.
To analyse these processes, and the relation between structure and agency, it is relevant to continue with how organisational practices and structures are often either reflections of, or responses to, rules, beliefs and conventions built into the wider society (Powell & Colyvas, 2007, p. 975). For ISAs, this applies with regard to 'elaboration of fields in terms of power, status, and history of institutions and the effects on organizations' (Washington & Patterson, 2011, p. 9). While early research within this framework focused on three mechanisms of organisational change through institutional isomorphism - coercive, normative and mimetic mechanisms (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983) - and thus rewarding conformity (at least within an organisational field), recent theoretical ventures draw attention to how organisations have changed in more diverse ways - acknowledging both homogenisation and divergence - because of external pressure and internal entrepreneurship (Beckert, 2010). A key analytical task in that respect is to investigate how 'stakeholder salience' is related to the cumulative number of stakeholder attributes - power, legitimacy and urgency - perceived by managers to be present (Mitchell, Agle, & Wood, 1997, p. 873; Neville, Bell & Whitwell, 2011) and to identify the relative importance of stakeholders as the FIA grows as an organisation. These stakeholder relations are shaping as well as are being shaped by institutional logics, - that is, 'a set of material practices and symbolic constructions - which constitutes its organizing principles and which is available to organizations and individuals to elaborate' (Friedland & Alford, 1991, p. 248).
However, with increasing engagement beyond sports a plurality of such logics has emerged among ISAs, such as the FIA, creating hybrid organisations that are not merely non-profit or profit-based, neither neutral nor political, and transparent and secluded at the same time. Drawing upon Skelcher and Smith's (2015) theorisation of hybridity and institutional logics, the manifestations of the latter within the FIA, in different eras, thus has to approached in an exploratory way. Most notably, this approach replaces rational choice behaviour affiliated with new institutionalism with a refined version of Giddens' (1986) theory of structuration, as 'decisions and outcomes are a result of the interplay between individual agency and institutional structure' (Thornton & Ocasio, 2008, p. 103). And rather than following new institutional theory in separating the symbolic, the structural, and the cognitive dimensions of institutions, institutional logics integrate
them based on ideas of 'embedded agency'. Consequently, 'institutional logic' has become a more flexible approach to grasp why institutional characteristics are enabling and constraining agency at the same time. As advised by Thornton and Ocasio (2008, p. 115) the development of the FIA will be analysed through four mechanisms of change: institutional entrepreneurs, structural overlap, event sequencing, and competing institutional logics. The rest of the proposed outline give some examples of incidents, processes and people that will be relevant to investigate in this context.
Chapter 2: Early expansion: 1945-1967
As the FIA after the Second World War acquired new members, so did its responsibilities in terms of governance. The search for new members outside of Europe (or inside, as with former communist countries) in particular was troubled by political circumstances (making it difficult for Germany, a big automotive actor, to remain a member of the FIA) as well as the need to incorporate changes in consumer society, in which the car took on a prominent role. Simultaneously, the FIA established in 1950 what was to become the most popular motorsport championship in the future: Formula 1. With that, debates and quarrels about regulations began almost immediately. Although mostly ran by privateers in its first decade of racing, Formula 1 teams became a force to be reckoned with in terms of negotiating with the FIA on the essentials of the sport. Not least did Bernie Ecclestone, a 1960s-race team owner in Formula 1 and a person whose institutional entrepreneurship on the FIA will be explored in detail in following chapters, begin to assess the opportunity to transform the poorly organized and commercially sclerotic F1 into a full-fledged spectacle.
Hence, the FIA experienced growing pains in its attempts to cater to old and new stakeholders - in other words, reconciling different institutional logics with the same solution as faced with issues in the past. Explaining his decision not to stand for the renewal of his mandate, FIA President 1958-1963 Count Hadelin de Liedekerke Beaufort expressed it honestly at the General Assembly, 14 October 1963: 'The FIA may rejoice in the fact that the tasks which lay before it is now more important than ever, that its membership are increasing on a par with the progress of motorization in the new Continents. There the FIA finds a justification of its efforts, but it must also perceive the opportunity for new tasks, and perhaps for some reorganizing.' Before he ended with passing on the presidency to someone 'with longer prospects before him, or more knowledgeable of the new circumstances of modern life'. Subsequently, these issues were addressed by the new FIA President, Italian Prince Caracciolo - the only candidate - in his acceptance speech at the very same meeting. With reference to difficulties of a general character, such as 'the transition period the automobile world is going through' and the acceptance of member countries whose needs 'are totally different from those of other countries', the new FIA president saw it as inevitable that the FIA needed to 'undergo deep changes'. To underpin this argument, Prince Caracciolo emphasised more peculiar changes related to sport: 'our Federation - and this is its pride, its title of glory, which we must certainly never deny - our Federation was born from Sport and, especially in the beginning, it had an entirely sporting outlook. However, compared with other domains of the automobile, one must say that sport no longer ranks first'. And while he added that 'while trying to retain impetus, the enthusiasm which were typical of sport, we must become fully adapted to modern times and realise that we have other tasks before us.'
These views were both correct and misleading at the same time. Although it was true that the FIA was to be involved in issues that was not part of its original mandate, such as the environmental impact of cars, the sporting part of motoring was growing, not fading - something that is even underlined in the official report on FIA activities 1962-63, where it is doubtful that the sporting public, due to the growing number of events, classes and series, 'can have a really clear or comprehensive view of the position of competitors, during the season'. This inconsistency would later recoil as Prince Caracciolo strongly advocated a FIA that should no longer be considered 'a meeting between friends where general directives are elaborated, but rather as a driving instrument for the execution of our programme. We must therefore try to reinforce our central mechanism'. Exactly how the FIA should operationalize this outlook, apart from relying on the cooperation from its existing members and the inclusion of new ones like Senegal and Malaysia, was however more difficult to agree upon. For example, records document disagreements between Alliance Internationale de Tourisme (AIT), an international federation of motoring organisations, and the FIA, as the former wanted to establish its own technical commission within Organisation mondiale du tourisme et de l'automobile (OTA), established in 1950. Prince Caracciolo retorted to this claim by underlining that threats to the FIA's authority had to be dealt with immediately, as 'our strictest duty is to make our Federation the most powerful and efficient possible'. The question was how?
Chapter 3: Into the modern era: 1967-1985
In the late 1960s, other ISAs like the IOC and the FIFA were becoming entangled with politics and commerce on new levels. Although not fully aware of it, the FIA now belonged to a group of actors whose power had become more than instructional papers on sporting regulations. To address Prince Caracciolo's concern, ending the section above, there were signals that the FIA incorporated the fact that its organisational changes were more than ever intertwined with societal changes. At the Extraordinary General Assembly in Paris, 12-13 October 1967, the aim was to consider amendments to the FIA Statutes relative to the size of the International Sporting Commission (CSI). President of the CSR, Maurice Baumgartner, had in August 1967 proposed to raise the number of countries represented in the organisation from 12 to 18. The reason was twofold. First, he emphasised that 'the development of world motorsport', which he did not explain in detail, made it necessary to call upon new countries to contribute to the work of the CSI. Second, with this development came what Baumgartner called 'unpleasant electoral campaigns' from those countries desiring to become a CSI member, which could be rectified by expanding the delegacy. Together, these changes, Baumgartner argued, would strengthen the CSI 'throughout the world'. Lord Chesham, Great Britain's FIA representative, opposed the suggestion by referring to growing bureaucracy and that it would weaken the CSI's efficiency. Despite his objections, the proposal was adopted, and was one of the first signals that the FIA now had multiple challenges on the agenda.
The next day, however, the FIA decided not to intervene in two matters where the organisation could have acknowledged its powers, as manifested in the expansion of the CSI, and reached out to other ISAs at the same time. On the one hand, the FIA refused to engage in an ongoing dispute between Automobile Club de France (ACF) and Federation Francaise des Sport Automobile (FFSA), the latter co-founded by Jean-Marie Balestre, who later would become a key figure in the FIA's development. Disagreeing over sporting powers, Balestre saw his opportunity to reform the FFSA, and from being inaugurated as secretary general of the FFSA in 1968 he kept elbowing his way into 8 Place de la Concorde. On the other hand, the FIA debated the application for membership from the Automobile Association of South Africa. The USSR's representative M. Zaletaev argued that the decision should be postponed for a year because coloured people were not allowed in this organisation. But despite this, and despite the IOC's simultaneous demands to the apartheid regime to end racial discrimination of athletes as a requirement for participating in the Olympics, the FIA voted for admitting South Africa. These decisions did not make the headlines, but at the same time it symbolized a self-absorbed view of the FIA that would hinder its development later on.
Whereas companies at this time began to implement corporate social responsibilities as part of their business, ISAs, which for historical reasons considered themselves an organizational genre of their own with a vague understanding of neutrality as lead principle, fumbled with options on how to make an impact beyond the racetracks and gain from the growing interest in motorsport. Sometime in the mid-1960s, FIA Presidents Wilifred Andrews (1965-1971) and Prince Amaury de Merode (1971-1975) agreed that reforms were needed. According to Hutton (2004, p. 111), an ad hoc committee was set up in 1971 to review FIA's structure. At that point, it included 86 clubs from 76 countries, had an annual budget of 1.5 million francs, and derived about one-third of its income from motorsport. The committee found that 'a complete redesign of the FIA's sports administration was required and that the Federation should benefit more financially from it' (Hutton 2004, p. 111). The report also stated: 'Sport is the FIA's unique feature - its rights as an international controlling body are never questioned - and there is the opportunity for the FIA to get a fair share from the commercial side of the sport' (cited from Hutton 2004, p. 111).
Contrary to FIA's 1971 recommendation, Ecclestone and his ally Max Mosley argued that a separation of commercial and governing responsibilities would benefit both FIA and FOCA, as well as complying with EU regulations (Mosley 2015, pp. 164-67). The backdrop was a growing mistrust between teams, organisers, and the CSI - the FIA's satellite body created to oversee global motorsport - had begun to take its toll on a growing Formula 1 world championship in the late 1960s. Disputes regarding the distribution of prize money, cost agreements, and sporting regulations were all in mix that Ecclestone, team boss in Formula 1 at the time, saw an opportunity to benefit from. The magnitude of his role in the modern era of the FIA will be reviewed in the book, but the main issue regards commercial power over Formula 1. In 1964 the Formula 1 Constructors Association (F1CA) had been established, but it was little more than an administrative and rather powerless negotiator towards race organisers. But as Ecclestone gained control of F1CA in 1972 through a number of ingenious deals, most of them related to offerings that would help F1 teams simplify their logistical challenges and improve commercial potential, the CSI realised that its powers were under threat.
To counter Ecclestone, which the CSI seniors saw as vulgar and disrespectful for the traditions of FIA, the CSI made several moves, some of which included Pierre Ugeux's flawed attempts of treating Ecclestone as a diplomatic adversary. But it was not until Jean-Marie Balestre, president of the FFSA, the French national motorsport body, ousted Ugeux through what French newspapers called 'an election campaign worthy of a banana republic' (L'Humanite, 1996) that the FIA really could become a match for Ecclestone's imperial motives. Whereas F1CA is renamed FOCA, with future FIA President Max Mosley as Ecclestone's legal ally, Balestre does away with CSI and instead establish Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile (FISA) - with himself as President. While Balestre could not stand Ecclestone, and used every opportunity to discredit him, Ecclestone changed tactic from open conflict to back alley negotiations. This was the start of the so-called FISA-FOCA war, which in essence only regarded disagreements about aerodynamic technicalities that benefited the British teams and disfavouring the French and Italian manufacturers. Balestre's ban of this benefit made the competing fraction, which included Ecclestone, furious. And while it seems pedantic to make war over a technicality, it became symbolic for how one part (Ecclestone & Co) felt they were entitled to govern more of the product they had developed, not least when television rights became an issue, and another part (Balestre) who saw it as their natural right to continue ruling world motorsports.
Whereas much of this story, and the subsequent war has been told through the views of Ecclestone or Formula 1 teams, much less is written about the FIA's views on this conflict. In 1976, when CSI head Pierre Ugeux battled with Ecclestone, the teams, and the organisers of Formula 1, there were eight sub-committees in action, among the one on rally with Jean Todt, the future FIA president, as one of its members. This brings me to the fact that other FIA-governed championships, like the World Rally Championship (WRC) and the introduction of the Group B cars, also changed in terms of their commercial setup during this period. For that reason, although Ecclestone will be a major player in this and following chapters, the aim is also to examine other views - like the one of Sid Atkins, F1's safety and medical delegate since 1978 - and what went on elsewhere in the world of motorsports - and how it affected the FIA as a whole. Here, as always with the hierarchical FIA, it will be interesting to explore more of Balestre's views, alongside those of FIA president 1975-1985 (and former CSI president) Paul Metternich.
Chapter 4: From institutional autonomy to stakeholder networks: 1985-2009
It would last until 1985 before the FIA decided to join forces with those boycotting the apartheid regime - especially the IOC, which had begun to discuss this topic in the 1960s. But the South African race, and Ecclestone's role in it (he owned the racetrack and could not care less about the apartheid regime, among other things), represents a new set of challenges to the FIA that go beyond the issue of boycott. By considering the impact the South African debacle in the early 1980s had made on the FIA's legitimacy on the one hand, and experiencing the emergence of Bernie Ecclestone's commercial empire in Formula 1 that threatened to overshadow the FIA as governing body of world motorsport on the other, a new breed of stakeholders desired change within the FIA. Headed by Max Mosley, this desire translated into a hitherto unseen engineering of the FIA's voting system and its internal groupings. Armed with a strategy for gaining control of the FIA that caught Balestre by surprise, Mosley set out to reform the FIA and liberate it from its ties with the old aristocracies of continental Europe. In 1987, Balestre's chief opponent in the FISA-FOCA war, Bernie Ecclestone, was appointed FIA Vice-President (responsible for Promotional Affairs) as Mosley convinced Balestre he would be better off having Bernie inside the FIA than outside. Besides lobbying the smaller FIA countries, and thus exploiting the voting system's majority bias, Mosley thereafter claimed the FISA presidency after having ran against Balestre by offering to resign within a year if the members were dissatisfied with his performance as president (notably his close relationship with Ecclestone). They weren't, as it turned out, and two years later Mosley became FIA president - an agreement he carved out with Balestre's aid.
As a result of the politically savvy Mosley's strategies, and in context of the globalization of a new world order after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin wall, the FIA went through a substantial restructuring process in the early 1990s that radically changed the governing body's policies and institutional logic. The first change was a professionalization of the FIA with regards to commercial responsibilities and duties. In 1995, Ecclestone's company acquired 'the commercial rights to Formula One to him for 15 years, on the condition that they would return to the FIA at the end of that period. For the duration of the deal, the FIA would receive an index-linked annual fixed royalty'. For the WRC, the major change came in 1999, when rally team boss David Richards acquired the commercial rights and introduced a number of changes that reached deep into the FIA's governing responsibilities. Both these deals were scrutinized closely by the European Commission (EC), and most of all, the one including Ecclestone. Besides initiating a bitter conflict between Mosley and the EC's Karel van Miert, resulting in similar antipathies as between Ecclestone and Balestre, the EC's interference in what Mosley saw as the FIA's own business opened up for debate about the autonomy of the FIA. This question was also raised with the conflict that included the EU's desire to ban tobacco advertisement, a 1 million donation from Ecclestone to the British Labour Party (who then - suspiciously - suggested to exempt Formula 1 from this ban), and the lobbying from Labour Party Official David Ward, a future FIA presidential candidate. In 2001, FIA, together with the IOC, organized as a response one of the first ISA-driven conferences on the independence of ISAs called "The Rules of the Game" (The Rules of the Game, 2001), which will be explored in detail.
The second change was that the FIA resumed much of its pre-World War II work for automobilists around the world, most notably on road safety and technological innovation, and advocated a broad social responsibility policy. These renewed components in the FIA's portfolio became institutionalized in 2001 with the FIA Foundation, set up with those 313 million euros earned by leasing the commercial rights for Formula One to Ecclestone for the next hundred years. In contrast to the Balestre era, and to the commercial debates mentioned above, these changes involved stakeholders previously marginalized by the FIA. Although the FIA had held Round Tables on automotive issues since 1974, it first in 1992 that its presence was felt. This year, the Round Table was held during the UN's 'Earth Summit' conference on the environment, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The FIA conference had the title: 'Environment and Development - A Challenge for the Automobile and Society', and was, as told by Max Mosley in his autobiography, indicative of the new space that the FIA should fill in global politics. For example, Mosley promoted the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP), the independent crash-test organisation and served as its chairman 1996-2004, while collaborating with the IOC to preserve the status of ISAs as autonomous bodies without being accountable to anyone else besides its members.
Changes like those described above, include a number of people and situations and shifting power alliances which will be relevant to explore in the context of this book. How was Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad involved in getting a Formula 1 Grand Prix to the country? What were the circumstances and negotiations of the fierce battle between the FIA's Mosley (who despised the European Union) and the European Commission's van Miert (who despised the ways Ecclestone and Mosley did business)? What was the backdrop to the 2001 conference mentioned above? How was the FIA's stakeholder policy transformed from a member's only perspective defended by Mosley (The Rules of the Game, 2001) to a full-body NGO with an extended practice of stakeholder democracy?
Chapter 5: From sporting body to global influencer: 2009-2020
When Jean Todt, who 'inherited' the FIA presidency after Max Mosley, defeated Ari Vatanen in 2009 and David Ward in 2013 for the presidency of the FIA in campaign races that involved allegations of corruption as well as criticism of transparency issues and malpractice, the FIA was definitely no longer merely a sporting body. Instead, it had through its arrangements with the UN and collaboration with international actors from environmentalist groups and powerful sponsors of race series (like Formula E - E for electric) like the Swiss-Swedish multinational corporation ABB become a global 'influencer' on topics far beyond the race track. Much of this was due to Todt himself. A former rally co-driver, team manager in both rally and in Formula 1, as well being married to Hollywood actress and UNICEF ambassador Michelle Yeoh, he possessed international goodwill and know-how about progressing the FIA into the 21st century. Yet, as I will demonstrate, the real change had been institutional.
After the 2013 election, the FIA opened up. On the website wardandteam2013.com (now defunct), prior to the election, Ward underlined that: 'The FIA can give the impression of being antiquated and autocratic'[i] and demanded substantial changes in the organisation. Todt replied by promoting his own re-election campaign under the heading 'The Road Forward - 2013-2017'. On the official website, we could read that Todt was proud of having established the Statutes Review Commission 'to thoroughly examine how the FIA operates'.[ii] What is more, Todt and team decided to make the FIA more transparent and more integral with global politics. In light of external scrutiny, partly because of the corruption scandals at the FIFA and the political controversies involving the IOC, and partly because of new NGO networks working to impose good governance criteria on ISAs, the FIA published - for the first time - a publicly available Annual Activity Report in 2016. Here, although Sport and Mobility are administratively separated, we find obvious synergies. While the FIA Mobility Policy Commission was involved in e.g. the 'The New Urban Agenda: A Pathway for Sustainable Urban Mobility' project together with French research university Sciences Po, the profile of the Formula E races is tightly linked to the race hosts development of 'smart cities' and the FIA's emphasis on 'green' technology innovations. These elements are implemented in the event design and the promotional mix, as well as used by the FIA to signal governing progressiveness in context of the usually 'dirty' image of motorsport.
Due to the marketing efforts of Formula E it appears to have been incremental to the rejuvenation of the FIA as Formula 1 has begun to reach the limits of its appeal. But for the FIA as an organisation, less is known about what the most recent institutional transformations mean to its institutional logic and how it affects its traditionally strong loyalty to its mandate. In the 2016 Activity Report the FIA, assisted by consultancy firm Deloitte, pledges to implement a wide range of changes in the name of good governance. But what has actually been done? We know that a Compliance Officer has been contracted, young Paolo Basarri. Since august 2017 he has been responsible for implementing a four-year plan to ensure 'compliance with external applicable regulations and developing appropriate internal regulations and controls in order to minimize the ethics and compliance related risk.' But what does this mean in light of the FIA's increasing commingling of interests and responsibilities, such as with the controversies of the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix, the Turkish WRC event, or the Saudi Arabian Formula E race in the period this chapter covers?
Chapter 6: The road ahead: the FIA's future
When Todt resigns in 2021, at the age of 75, his farewell will symbolize a potential generational shift within the FIA, as the FIA statutes now applies an age limit of 75 years at time of election to all FIA bodies. Today's power circle of men and women in charge of the FIA, has known each other since the 1970s. Whatever side of the table they have been seated, they have enjoyed insider privileges (and negatives) for quite some time. During Todt's presidency, however, this aging cohort of motorsport figures have fragmented for various reasons; health, business opportunities, or other things. Outside the FIA, Ecclestone, now 88, has sold off his Formula 1 rights to the US-based Liberty Media. This generational shift becomes important because the FIA has to make some crucial choices on the design, logic, and policy of the organization that affects its relationship with the car industry, its partners, and - not least - within the FIA itself. Challenges abound: The European Commission's multi-faceted policy on the future of European automotive industry counts on the FIA towards 2030; global demands for good governance towards ISAs as addressed by the EC, the OECD, and independent actors like the Sport and Rights Alliance (SRA), which the FIA barely has begun to address, will undoubtedly increase in the years to come; the necessity to incorporate green values will revolutionize motorsport, as exemplified by the Formula E world championship mentioned above.
In this light, an interesting question is what direction the FIA - both internally and externally - will take, based on its stock of knowledge on the one hand, and the need for non-motorsport expertise on the other (such as the abovementioned Basarri)? Although it legally earns the status as non-profit organisation, the operational multitude of sporting and mobility topics in which it is involved has generated a hybrid organisation. On an organisational level, the extent and workings of this hybridity, I argue, as outlined in chapter 1, is essential to evaluate if the FIA of the future is going to continue as 'change agent' (Schulenkorf, 2010) for causes it sees as important while keeping its autonomy as sporting body. Related to this is the possible election of former French prime minister (and president of the FIA's Constructors Commission since 2017, which handles the Concorde Agreement between the IFA and the Formula 1), Francois Fillon as FIA president in 2021. A popular man in the East he will benefit the FIA. He was awarded the Japanese Grand Cordon de l'Ordre du Soleil Levant in 2013, the country's highest civil order, by emperor Akihito, and has also established Fondation pour les Minorités d'Orient. If he chooses to run for presidency, and win, it will be the first time an 'outsider' has earned the office at 8 Place de la Concorde - and who knows what that change may bring of future organisational transformations?
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