The Political Power of the Business Corporation

The Political Power of the Business Corporation

Stephen Wilks

The large business corporation has become a governing institution in national and global politics. This trail-blazing book offers a critical account of its political dominance and lack of democratic legitimacy. Thanks to successful wealth generation and ideological victories the large business corporation has become an effective political actor and has entered into partnership with government in the design of public policy and delivery of public services. Stephen Wilks argues that governmental and corporate elites have transformed British politics to create a ‘new corporate state’ with similar patterns in the USA, in competitor economies – including China – and in global governance. The argument embraces multinational corporations, corporate social responsibility, corporate governance and the inequality generated by corporate dominance.

Chapter 11: Conclusion: fairy-tales, facts, foci and futures

Stephen Wilks

Subjects: business and management, international business, economics and finance, political economy, politics and public policy, political economy, public policy


The business corporation is a work of genius. It has harnessed material resources, technology and organisation, mobilised by human imagination and innovation, to create wealth and mass prosperity unimaginable to earlier generations. In the process it has unleashed less attractive aspects of human ambition including greed, dominance and a lust for status, but at least these baser impulses have operated through peaceful commerce. Its sheer success means that it has become a constituent feature of contemporary political life, omnipresent, often unremarked, but powerful enough to dictate political choices. The opening chapter concluded that we do not have adequate theories or frameworks to assess the influence of the corporation over contemporary politics. In response to that lack, the book argues that we should regard the large corporation as a governing institution which has become part of the governance of society and which therefore affects democratic process, political choice and the design and implementation of public policy. Until recently the power of the corporation was held in balance. Since the late 1980s that balance has been overturned; an argument that has been made in various settings in earlier pages. During the time this book has been researched and written, the extent of the contemporary imbalance has become clearer and more worrying.

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