Since the Financial Crisis of 2008, there has been unprecedented interest in, and political momentum behind, reform of the international corporate tax regime. This chapter outlines the origins and subsequent failings of the international corporate tax regime and identifies the factors that, criticism notwithstanding, have made it resistant to change since its origins in the 1920s. The chapter traces the critical periods in the development of the international tax regime as it currently stands, highlighting both victories and setbacks. The analysis presented highlights the difficulties of achieving meaningful reform in collective action problems, such as international taxation, that rely upon high-level international cooperation. The recent BEPS initiative is examined (and discussed further in Chapter 2), and presented as a reminder of the pervasiveness of the obstacles to reform identified elsewhere in this chapter, and in the rest of this book. While recent reforms have showed some promising signs, history suggests that prophecies of thoroughgoing change should be treated with caution.
The concept of globalisation fundamentally challenges the methodological territorialism that has long defined the parameters of social research. Nowhere is the encounter between the social sciences and globalisation better illustrated than in the discipline of international relations which, as the ‘international’ prefix connotes, takes nation states as the locus of the world’s power, authority and, hence, governance. This chapter contends that the novelty of globalisation for the social world and social research lies in its specification as an ‘ation’ not a ‘nation’. Whereas ‘national’ perspectives proceed on the premise that governance is synonymous with governments, globalisation as an ‘ation’ makes no prior assumptions about the sources of power, authority and governance but instead deems them a matter for empirical interrogation. These investigations have produced new, or lent credence to existing, frameworks and vocabularies that seek to depict the fluidity and messiness of governance in a globalised world. The chapter concludes by considering the merits of three such frameworks: multilevel governance; transgovernmental networks; and neo-medievalism.