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
Date Written: September 1, 2007
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: Suggested Citation