Corporate Power and Responsible Capitalism?

Corporate Power and Responsible Capitalism?

Towards Social Accountability

Bryn Jones

In this important book, Bryn Jones uses insights from political economy, historical analysis and sociological concepts of the corporation, as a socially disembedded but political actor, to address concerns over the over-reach of Anglo-Saxon corporations. These firms are compared with their continental European and East Asian counterparts, both in their social and economic functions and their institutional structures. Jones then draws on alternative models proposed by advocates of CSR, cooperative enterprise and corporate democratisation, to argue for key reforms for corporations’ greater social accountability.

Chapter 3: Social challenges for corporate accountability: the rise and fall of state collectivism

Bryn Jones

Subjects: business and management, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, international business, organisation studies, economics and finance, corporate governance, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


These days, calls for (re) nationalisation become louder when there are corporate failings and outrages, such as those by energy or rail companies. But these appeals are usually ignored within mainstream politics. Collective ownership and control within a statutory framework now appears as ‘the road that cannot be travelled’: an approach seen as having failed and therefore being discredited. This demise helps to explain both why contemporary corporations are now largely free from such challenges and why collectivist forms of accountability and control are difficult to advocate. The previous chapter’s story of the share-owned, executive-managed (ST/EM), ‘Anglo-Saxon’ corporation has been an international one. We have examined the growth of similar appropriate legal forms and common, cross-national organisational structures. This chapter, however, concentrates on the United Kingdom between 1945 and 1979. This narrower focus is adopted because it was the failure of collectivist attempts at greater social control in the UK which contributed to the broader international resurgence and dominance of the ST/EM corporation. Over a few decades, 1945–2000, the UK has been a test bed for contrasting and conflicting ideas, experiments and business models. From a system dominated by independent investor capital and businesses and stock-market financed corporations it moved to an economy based on ‘nationalised industries’.

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