Who Rules the World?
Edited by Georgina Murray and John Scott
Chapter 3: Capital Relations and Directorate Interlocking: The Global Network in 2007
1 William K. Carroll Interlocking corporate directorates have been analysed from several theoretical perspectives – as means of reducing uncertainties in the environments of large organizations (Allen 1974), as channels of communication among members of a capitalist ‘inner circle’ (Useem 1984), and as traces of the power that resides within the accumulation of capital (Carroll and Sapinski 2011). In this chapter, I draw upon the third perspective in considering two ways in which board interlocks among the world’s largest firms may be articulated with processes of capital accumulation that are the raison d’être of corporations. As Marx (1956: ch. 4, para. 7) emphasized, capital accumulation is a ‘circuit describing process’ in which economic value is expanded under the control of the capitalist class. Within this circuit, capital is continually reconverted from money capital into productive capital (investment), from productive capital into commodity capital (production), and from commodity capital back into money capital (sales). As capital is always fragmented into competing units, even if they be giant corporations, different kinds of companies are distinctly positioned in capital’s circuitry, with financial institutions controlling money capital and steering it to industrial firms while the latter are mainly engaged in expanding value in the conversion of money capital into commodity capital. If the global corporate interlock network is a configuration linking the major organizational sites within which corporate capital accumulates, how does the structure of board interlocking correspond to the circuitry of accumulation? This is at its heart a question of the instrumentalities of...
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