From Governance to Political Economy: Insights from a Study of Relations between Corporations and Workers

Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 45, No. 3, p. 349, 2007

32 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2009

See all articles by Harry W. Arthurs

Harry W. Arthurs

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Claire Mumme

University of Windsor Faculty of Law

Date Written: September 1, 2007

Abstract

This study explores four postwar attempts to re-imagine the role of workers within the corporation and especially their relation to the processes of corporate governance. Employees have been variously conceptualized as “citizens at work,” whose rights of association, speech, assembly, and due process can be secured through collective bargaining; as “stakeholders,” whose interests are entitled to consideration analogous to those of corporate shareholders; as “human capital,” worth preserving and enhancing through enlightened employment policies and practices; and as “investors” — actual holders of corporate equity through pension funds and other vehicles. Despite the descriptive power and normative appeal of these approaches, each ultimately failed. Nonetheless, they provide important insights into the political economy of the corporation, revealing it not only as it is usually imagined — as a site of orderly governance, rational decision making, and purposeful coordination — but also as a site of conflict. This insight may help to explain and predict how the political economy of corporations — rather than their governance structure — determines the fate not just of workers but also of shareholders, debt-holders, and creditors; of corporate managers and professional advisors; of participants in corporate supply and distribution chains, of consumers of corporate goods and services; and of inhabitants of communities and environments which come within the corporate force field.

Keywords: industrial relations, corporate goverance, labour, concepts of employment relations, stakeholders, unions

JEL Classification: A14, D23, D74, J5

Suggested Citation

Arthurs, Harry W. and Mumme, Claire, From Governance to Political Economy: Insights from a Study of Relations between Corporations and Workers (September 1, 2007). Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 45, No. 3, p. 349, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1489443

Harry W. Arthurs (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

Claire Mumme

University of Windsor Faculty of Law ( email )

401 Sunset Avenue
Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4 N9B 3P4
Canada

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