Corporate Power and Responsible Capitalism?
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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.
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Chapter 7: Alternative, socially embedded business systems: Germany, East Asia, and industrial districts

Bryn Jones


The examples in the previous chapter suggest that more socially embedded business systems may be more successful and durable than others, such as the ST/EM model. For the logic of the latter rests on ‘disembedding’ in order to endow firms with autonomous freedoms and powers. But at what level should embedding take place and in what social or political institutions? The state-owned, public corporations examined in chapter 3, for example, could be said to have been socially embedded. However, despite achieving indirect social accountability through government oversight and trade union bargaining rights, engagement with the wider spectrum of British civil society’s interests and institutions was very limited. Despite early aspirations, neither consumer groups nor unionised workers gained much influence over, or played much of a role in, their direction or operation. In most key respects the nationalised industries were the domain of the political and business elites who sought to influence their key decisions for political or economic gains. Do the larger-sized firms in the CME-type societies offer greater engagement?

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