Chapter 1 introduces governance as a legal issue, ultimately grounded in the philosophy of right, a branch of philosophy. Early legal theorists such as Hugo Grotius sketched versions of what is today called governance, and there is today a line of demarcation drawn between liberal economies of the Anglo-American type, and continental and Scandinavian embedded economies wherein the state is recognized as a major agent influencing the economic system. The chapter discusses the differences between John Locke’s liberal view of, e.g., ownership rights, and George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s philosophy of right, developed 14 decades later. Whereas Locke emphasizes a “minimal theory” of ownership rights, serving as the foundation for liberalism, Hegel too recognizes ownership as a fundamental right but locates ownership rights within the realm of the state. Consequently, the intellectual roots of liberal economies and embedded economies share certain assumptions but also diverge regarding assumptions about the role of the state. The second half of the chapter examines the creation of the Berle–Means firm, a key legal vehicle in the liberal economy and in its governance.
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This chapter introduces the concept of governance as a key term when examining the current economic situation, including growing economic inequality. In order to understand such an economic and social phenomenon, analytical terms that bridge public companies, state-controlled agencies, and transnational regulators need to be introduced. The chapter introduces and critically discusses key terms in the governance literature, including corporate governance, transnational governance, and related terms such as accountability.
Marie Laure Djelic presents the role of Atlas Transnational, the mother of neo-liberal think tanks. Over the last 40 years neoliberalism has become the ‘new dominant regime of truth’ with a significant performative impact both nationally and transnationally. Of particular interest is the carrier and boundary-spanning role of the dense ecology of neoliberal think tanks and research institutes constructed during these last 40 years. These think tanks espouse a market- and business-friendly ideology and have made it their mission to champion, spread, defend and entrench, as widely and deeply as possible and in a multiplicity of contexts, this ideology and its associated politics. Djelic explores the role of Atlas, that was created to ‘litter the world’ with free-market think tanks, with a particular interest for the process through which the organizational form of the ‘neoliberal think tank’ came to be constructed, diffused, and progressively institutionalized during that period.