Chapter 3: Globalisation and the enhanced power of multinational corporations
The unease felt widely across society about the growth and deployment of corporate power originates, as we saw in Chapter 1, in the implied challenge to democratic government. As democratic theory explores in depth, governments are regarded as legitimate thanks to elections and to the consent embodied in the exercise of popular will operating through the electoral process within a constitutionally agreed legal system. Corporate political power does not enjoy electoral legitimacy and although it may lay claim to alternative modes of legitimation, corporate power is commonly regarded as legitimate only if it is exercised in ways consistent with a democratic political process. Much of the discussion of the corporation as a political actor advanced in Chapter 2 therefore reflected the dynamics of relations between corporate actors and (legitimate) governments. The traditional pluralist view of corporate power visualised corporations making demands on governments but recent scholarship has emphasised a view of societies ordered not only by ‘government’ but by a range of actors in a process of ‘governance’ (Chhotray and Stoker, 2009). The governance perspective is more consistent with the partnership view of corporate power discussed in Chapter 2 and visualises multiple actors and sources of authority working together to define and enforce rule systems.
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