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Christopher May

This chapter introduces the intent of the book and sets out why a multidisciplinary approach to researching the global corporation will pay analytical dividends, before establishing the broad context for such an approach. The chapter also argues for the importance of the legal aspects of the corporate form as one of the key elements of the proposed multidisciplinary perspective on the global political economy of the corporate sector. The chapter finally offers a brief overview of the subsequent chapters.

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Christopher May

This chapter presents a brief pre-history of the corporate form, identifying its key antecedents and early forms. This history is then linked to the argument that there are varieties of capitalism, and the recognition that one way capitalism varies is though the different forms of regulation of the corporation. This is followed by an initial discussion of the relations between managers and workers, and a consideration of the insights to the history of the corporation (or specific corporations) that might be contributed by transaction cost economics.

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Christopher May

This chapter explores the implications of replacing a concern with the management of the corporation with an analysis that recognises corporations govern their networks. It examines a variety of approaches including those from law and economics, and suggests it makes sense to consider the corporation as a political domain that requires democratisation. The discussion of workers and managers initiated in the previous chapter is reprised which leads to a discussion of corporate social responsibility and why it is crucial to understand the inner workings of the corporation if we are to analyse its external relations.

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Christopher May

In this chapter, the insights about the corporation’s governance function are applied to the global corporate supply chain to explore the power contours of these complex networks. This includes a discussion of the plight of small and medium-sized companies and the issue of how service provision is governed and shaped in such networks. The chapter also explores the relationship between states’ economic development policies and the ability to ‘enrol’ in such supply chains. It concludes with a brief account of how corporate power is articulated in supply chain relations.

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Christopher May

In this chapter corporations’ political agency is explored and related both to the problem of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) and the question of the taxation of the global corporate sector. The chapter examines both formalised and less formal forms of international or global governance of the corporate practices before focusing on the claimed power of the transnational capital class to (re)shape the global capitalist system to the benefit of the corporate sector.

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Christopher May

This concluding chapter makes explicit the underlying normative approach of the volume to assess the range of options that can be discerned for the reform of the global corporate sector. It explores a range of both national and international legal reforms that might be used to expand and enhance the regulation of global corporate practices before examining the proposal(s) for the establishment of a social licence to operate for corporations. The chapter concludes with a consideration of cooperatives and platform capitalism as two very different organisational reforms that can be discerned in contemporary capitalism, followed by the author’s final reflections on the promise of reform.

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Christopher May

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Christopher May

This exciting Research Agenda offers a multi-disciplinary and historically informed programme for the further investigation of the global political economy of the corporate sector. It tackles the question, can and should the corporation be reformed? Christopher May develops a range of intersecting areas for research while also offering an account of the possibilities for the reform of the global corporation.
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Neil Thin

This chapter explores the relation between social wellbeing perspectives and the social psychology of motivation, in particular the concepts of ‘self-transcendence’, Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’, ‘social motivation’, and ‘Self Determination Theory’. It is argued that a viable conception of human flourishing must give central place to social flourishing, recognizing self-transcendent social motivations and experiences as crucial for human happiness. For social planners, a crucial part of this argument is that social goods have intrinsic value as part of the good life, rather than merely having instrumental value as factors that cause individual wellbeing. For example, a benign ‘social climate’ in a neighbourhood, school, or workplace is good in itself, not just a tool to foster cooperation. It is argued that reminders about this can be ‘disruptive’, but that it is not ‘adversarial’ to do so, since everyone recognizes the ultimate value of social wellbeing.

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Neil Thin

This chapter shows the potential of a wellbeing lens to enable us to clarify our beliefs about moral progress, and to celebrate our achievements in this regard with a view to fostering cumulative social improvement. Moral progress, defined as the facilitation of ultimately valued life outcomes, is distinguished from three other kinds of progress: remedial progress (mitigating or getting rid of deficits and harms); preventive progress (preventing or avoiding harms); and provisional progress (providing resources and capabilities which have only instrumental or ‘provisional’ value). These distinctions are recommended as analytically tools to foster better understanding of what it means to be socially ‘progressive’ in terms of attitudes, practices, and achievements. Karl Popper’s principle of ‘negative utilitarianism’ (that we have a moral duty to remove harms and deficits, but not to promote wellbeing) is discussed and rejected - because there are diminishing returns to minimising harms, and ample opportunities to foster wellbeing.