Towards Social Accountability
Chapter 3: Social challenges for corporate accountability: the rise and fall of state collectivism
These days, calls for (re) nationalisation become louder when there are corporate failings and outrages, such as those by energy or rail companies. But these appeals are usually ignored within mainstream politics. Collective ownership and control within a statutory framework now appears as ‘the road that cannot be travelled’: an approach seen as having failed and therefore being discredited. This demise helps to explain both why contemporary corporations are now largely free from such challenges and why collectivist forms of accountability and control are difficult to advocate. The previous chapter’s story of the share-owned, executive-managed (ST/EM), ‘Anglo-Saxon’ corporation has been an international one. We have examined the growth of similar appropriate legal forms and common, cross-national organisational structures. This chapter, however, concentrates on the United Kingdom between 1945 and 1979. This narrower focus is adopted because it was the failure of collectivist attempts at greater social control in the UK which contributed to the broader international resurgence and dominance of the ST/EM corporation. Over a few decades, 1945–2000, the UK has been a test bed for contrasting and conflicting ideas, experiments and business models. From a system dominated by independent investor capital and businesses and stock-market financed corporations it moved to an economy based on ‘nationalised industries’.
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