The Political Power of the Business Corporation
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The Political Power of the Business Corporation

Stephen Wilks

The large business corporation has become a governing institution in national and global politics. This trail-blazing book offers a critical account of its political dominance and lack of democratic legitimacy. Thanks to successful wealth generation and ideological victories the large business corporation has become an effective political actor and has entered into partnership with government in the design of public policy and delivery of public services. Stephen Wilks argues that governmental and corporate elites have transformed British politics to create a ‘new corporate state’ with similar patterns in the USA, in competitor economies – including China – and in global governance. The argument embraces multinational corporations, corporate social responsibility, corporate governance and the inequality generated by corporate dominance.
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Chapter 7: Multinational corporations as partners in global governance

Stephen Wilks


Chapters 4, 5 and 6 explored the exercise of corporate power in the UK. This chapter continues the exploration but examines corporate power in the global arena and emphasises the complex interdependence of the national and international exercise of corporate influence. The earlier chapters sought to demonstrate that corporations have operated as governing institutions in the UK and that they have consolidated that institutional power through the elite construction of a ‘New Corporate State’. Chapter 4 identified globalisation as one factor driving elite reconfigurations so that international operation within global markets emerges as a decisive enhancement of corporate power, arguably the factor that differentiates corporate power post-1990 from earlier incarnations. At the global level the exercise of corporate power is taken for granted as an obvious and constant element in governance (Fuchs, 2007; Ougaard, 2010), but how does global business power impact on the national setting, and vice versa? As we saw in Chapter 3, multinational corporations have distinctive sources of power, but every multinational political actor is simultaneously a multiple national political actor.

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