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Governing the Global Corporation: A Critical Perspective


In this article I provide a critical perspective on governing the global corporation. While the papers in the 2009 special issue of Business Ethics Quarterly explore the political role of corporations I argue that they lack a sophisticated analysis of power across institutional and actor networks. The argument that corporate engagement with deliberative democracy can enhance the legitimacy of corporations does not take into account the effects of institutional, material and discursive forms of power that determine legitimacy criteria. As a result corporate versions of citizenship mediate versions of social responsibility and morality, which are reflected in the institutional and political economic norms that are produced by this power/knowledge. In order to overcome the limits of corporate social responsibility there is a need to develop more democratic forms of global governance of corporations. A radical revisioning of democratic governance would also need to overcome the limits posed by sovereignty and would require new forms of multi-actor and multi-level translocal governance arrangements in an attempt to create forms of power that are more compatible with the principles of economic democracy.

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S. B. Banerjee 2000. “Whose Land Is It Anyway? National Interest, Indigenous Stakeholders and Colonial Discourses: The Case of the Jabiluka Uranium Mine,” Organization & Environment 13(1): 338.

S. B. Banerjee 2003. “Who Sustains Whose Development? Sustainable Development and the Reinvention of Nature,” Organization Studies 24(1): 14380.

S. B. Banerjee 2007. Corporate Social Responsibility: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

M. K. Dorsey 2007. “Climate Knowledge and Power: Tales of Skeptic Tanks, Weather Gods, and Sagas for Climate (In)justice,” Capitalism, Nature, Socialism 18(2): 721.

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I. Pies , S. Hielscher , and M. Beckmann 2009. “Moral Commitments and the Societal Role of Business: An Ordonomic Approach to Corporate Citizenship,” Business Ethics Quarterly 19(3): 372401.

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Business Ethics Quarterly
  • ISSN: 1052-150X
  • EISSN: 2153-3326
  • URL: /core/journals/business-ethics-quarterly
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