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 11: Embedded accountability: alternative possibilities and political perspectives

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

Extract

The previous chapter tried to disentangle ideas of responsibility from accountability and to assess the extent to which different modes of regulation achieve corporate accountability to key sectors of society. This chapter will relate those issues to the alternative types of business system analysed in chapter 7, which are more embedded in their societies. The aim is to pin down whether there are forms of corporate structure and ethos which could inform reforms compatible with the existing institutional UK context. Complementarity seems preferable to extolling a paradigm system that satisfies all of the social, economic and political criteria that rigorous intellectual analysis and political values demand. The following assessment of what reforms are needed has only two guiding principles: (1) to restore a genuine form of social embeddedness to the ST/EM corporation; (2) to create an embeddedness facilitating democratic accountability to civil society, rather than to a remote state – as occurred with nationalisation – or an isolated sectional interest, – as in 1970s ‘industrial democracy’ or shareholder value (SV). This chapter begins with a brief re-assessment of the Polanyian theory of social embeddedness and the relevance of the embedded business systems described in chapter 7 as alternatives to the dominance of ST/EM firms in the UK.

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