Thinking Big: Student Led Research on the World's Largest Global Corporations
28 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2015
Date Written: December 17, 2015
In 2008 the Australian National University College of Law commenced a program of law reform and social justice activities, a key part of which is to give law students opportunities to explore and enhance the role of law in society through study, research and social justice initiatives. Law students are encouraged to develop and run their own projects, and in 2012 the Global Corporate Power Project (‘the Project’) began. From humble beginnings, the students involved in the Project have undertaken research on the size, geographical spread and regulation of global corporations in the banking, insurance, food and beverage, military technology, mining, hotel, pharmaceuticals, automotive and consumer electrics industries. Defining a “global corporation” and determining how powerful such corporations are has been an underlying desire of the research.
This article explores the Project and some of its key findings. It begins by discussing globalisation and corporations, and the implication of these implications for state sovereignty. In Part 2, the article sets out the methodology and criteria used in the Project to identify and classify corporations based on their geographical spread. An initial review of the literature on globalisation revealed that “global corporate power”, if defined, was almost universally related to profitability rankings. One of the unique aspects of the Project therefore was that it developed its own methodology to identify geographically diverse corporations. In Part 3, the key findings in the banking, insurance, food and beverage, tobacco, and military technology industries are identified and discussed. The discussion highlights how, in all these sectors, there are six or fewer global corporations that dominate. Not surprisingly, many of these corporations are household names and would be familiar to regulators, consumers and governments around the world. Finally, in Part 4, the article reflects on the importance of such research for student learning and future research directions.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation