Handbook of the International Political Economy of the Corporation
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Handbook of the International Political Economy of the Corporation

Edited by Andreas Nölke and Christian May

Over the past few decades, corporations have been neglected in studies of international political economy (IPE). Seeking to demystify them, what they are, how they behave and their goals and constraints, this Handbook introduces the corporation as a unit of analysis for students of IPE. Providing critical discussion of their global and domestic power, and highlighting the ways in which corporations interact with each other and with their socio-political environment, this Handbook presents a thorough and up-to-date overview of the main debates around the role of corporations in the global political economy.
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Chapter 22: The corporation as an institution of global governance

Christopher May

Abstract

This chapter makes a simple argument: given the manner in which global corporations work with their global supply and/or value chains, an approach that merely understands this as the management of a complex set of relationships misses something important about their characteristic political economy. The chapter sets out an alternative approach that suggests there is some utility to understanding corporations as having a governance function across their networks, and links that suggestion to existing accounts of global governance. The author suggests that issues of legitimate authority and even a form of democratic deficit will illuminate corporate practices more thoroughly than approaches that just look at supply chain management as a product of efficiency maximization. The chapter therefore argues that global corporations can be usefully regarded for analytical purposes as institutions of global governance themselves.

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