Towards Social Accountability
Chapter 11: Embedded accountability: alternative possibilities and political perspectives
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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