Chapter 4 discusses the governance of markets, and more specifically the finance market and the finance industry. Using two cases, the securities market and the commodities trade market, the chapter examines how the finance industry has persistently lobbied to accomplish the de-regulation that has benefitted its interests. In the case of the expansion of the securities market, externalities in terms of predatory lending by thinly capitalized, late market entrants resulted in overbearing systemic risks, leading to the global finance industry collapse in 2008. In the case of commodities trade, to date less attended to by media and commentators, major finance industry actors are simultaneously granted the licence to both trade with commodities and issue financial instruments that enable speculation on commodities price volatility. Such licences are most likely to result in systemic risks whose cost are carried by third parties, in many cases some of the world’s poorest people suffering from soaring food prices when commodities become subject to speculation. The chapter concludes that the finance industry generates net economic welfare only when being monitored by state agencies and transnational agencies, and when its right to conduct business upstream is limited.
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Chapter 1 introduces governance as a legal issue, ultimately grounded in the philosophy of right, a branch of philosophy. Early legal theorists such as Hugo Grotius sketched versions of what is today called governance, and there is today a line of demarcation drawn between liberal economies of the Anglo-American type, and continental and Scandinavian embedded economies wherein the state is recognized as a major agent influencing the economic system. The chapter discusses the differences between John Locke’s liberal view of, e.g., ownership rights, and George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s philosophy of right, developed 14 decades later. Whereas Locke emphasizes a “minimal theory” of ownership rights, serving as the foundation for liberalism, Hegel too recognizes ownership as a fundamental right but locates ownership rights within the realm of the state. Consequently, the intellectual roots of liberal economies and embedded economies share certain assumptions but also diverge regarding assumptions about the role of the state. The second half of the chapter examines the creation of the Berle–Means firm, a key legal vehicle in the liberal economy and in its governance.
Chapter 2 examines the components of the shareholder primacy governance model that has dominated corporate governance scholarship since the early 1980s. Tracing the roots of the economic theory that justifies shareholder governance to the cold war era and what has been called cold war rationality, the chapter stresses how rational choice theory has informed corporate governance through, e.g., agency theory and other economic theories stipulating instrumental rationality as a privileged analytical model. The cold war heritage has been criticized for overstating experimental data and for ignoring rational responses from experimental subjects, resulting in an overtly negative view of human decision making capacities. When transferring such analytical models to, e.g., corporate governance affairs, salaried managers, e.g., are at risk of being portrayed in unfavourable ways to justify the market for management control, in turn resulting in shareholder primacy governance. The chapter concludes that the efficiency criterion that economic theory stipulates is too one-dimensional to serve its purpose and calls for novel analytical models to better assist corporate governance activities.
Chapter 3 examines the governance of the university sector, and stresses how, e.g., the uses of “big data” and algorithms in what is referred to as algorithm governance is now commonplace to commensurate heterogeneous entities, a process integral to market making. The chapter discusses “the politics of measuring,” now pervading all spheres of social life, resulting in new metrics being constitutive of agency. Using the specific case of credit rating on the basis of so-called FICO-scores, determining degrees of creditworthiness in American society, the politics of measuring is today an ongoing and ceaseless control mechanism. The second half of the chapter examines university ranking, another case of measurement to determine the status and position of higher education institutions. The chapter concludes that contemporary university governance is riddled with problems and inconsistencies, not least the problem of handling reactivity, agents’ rent-seeking work within existing governance models.
This chapter introduces the concept of governance as a key term when examining the current economic situation, including growing economic inequality. In order to understand such an economic and social phenomenon, analytical terms that bridge public companies, state-controlled agencies, and transnational regulators need to be introduced. The chapter introduces and critically discusses key terms in the governance literature, including corporate governance, transnational governance, and related terms such as accountability.
Monitoring and Regulating Industries and Organizations
The final chapter examines some of the implications of the current challenges in governing corporations, public and semi-public sector organizations such as universities, and industries. The economic concentration appear to correlate with growing economic inequality, but the “deep pockets” of certain market actors, including finance industry institutes, also generate social, political, and cultural effects that further accentuate the changes in the market. For this reason, the finance industry seems particularly complicated to govern and to regulate, blending political activism and market activities, including the introduction of new financial innovations to by-pass or eliminate regulatory control. In order to push down systemic risk—the demon of all finance market actors—legal and regulatory accountability may be needed. The final sections of the chapter examine such proposals and assess their practical utility.
Marie Laure Djelic presents the role of Atlas Transnational, the mother of neo-liberal think tanks. Over the last 40 years neoliberalism has become the ‘new dominant regime of truth’ with a significant performative impact both nationally and transnationally. Of particular interest is the carrier and boundary-spanning role of the dense ecology of neoliberal think tanks and research institutes constructed during these last 40 years. These think tanks espouse a market- and business-friendly ideology and have made it their mission to champion, spread, defend and entrench, as widely and deeply as possible and in a multiplicity of contexts, this ideology and its associated politics. Djelic explores the role of Atlas, that was created to ‘litter the world’ with free-market think tanks, with a particular interest for the process through which the organizational form of the ‘neoliberal think tank’ came to be constructed, diffused, and progressively institutionalized during that period.
Mikkel Flyverbom sets out to expand the conception of corporate advocacy by pointing to the growing importance of knowledge, data and visualizations. Drawing on insights from the literature on the politics of knowledge and the importance of knowledge in governance Flyverbom develops a conceptual entry point for enhancing the understanding of how Internet companies engage multiple forms of knowledge and visualizations as resources in their efforts to shape public perceptions, politics and regulation. To this end, the chapter uses illustrations from a study of Google and Facebook showing various forms of corporate advocacy that play out in this field: relationship building, message crafting and data provision. Based on this typology and the empirical illustrations Flyverborn discusses the role of conceptual and contextual embedding of visual numbers- and data-based forms of knowledge production and advocacy, in relation to prevalent forms and understandings of corporate political activities.