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 8: Communitarian solutions: business as moral integration

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


When the fraud-stricken Enron, Worldcom and Tyco corporations collapsed in 2002, Lawrence Lindsey, Chief Economic Adviser to President G.W. Bush, had a pat solution. Did this fairly orthodox, ‘supply-side’, liberal economist call for more competition between financially suspect firms? Did he advocate a break with the cosy relationships between corporations and the handful of giant accountancy firms; or greater scrutiny and oversight by shareholders? Astonishingly, this economist stalwart of market fundamentalism called for sociological change. You need a higher ethical standard than the one that existed in the 1990s. You can’t have an anything goes mentality and expect to maintain the trust that is necessary to make markets work. It is a more profound sociological change that is being called for than passing some legislation. (Lindsey in Beattie 2002) Some might allege that Lindsey, having had exposure to Enron’s business practices as a member of its advisory board, was drawing on direct experience of his former associates’ dubious integrity (Goldfarb 2006). Less charitably, Lindsey’s solution could have been because normative change entails less of a loss of corporate autonomy than having tighter financial controls. But Lindsey could also rely on a call for ethical responsibility chiming with swathes of US corporate opinion in what had become an intellectual reflex amongst the American business and policy establishment.

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