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The Business Corporation as a Political Actor

Work in Progress…

Here you can read more about each of the project members’ current research interests and plans.

If you would like to learn more about our work in progress or if you see any interesting opportunities for collaboration, please do reach out to us!


Rutger Claassen
The Constitution of the Corporation
I am currently finishing an overview text in which I try to use the three old legal theories of corporate personality (concession theory, real entity theory, aggregate theory) as templates for a political theory of the corporation. After that, I want to look more closely into the debates about business and human rights. Here I am be especially interested in the concept of ‘due diligence’, and how this can be given a meaningful content. This also relates to my recent interest in fiduciary theories in law/politics, which prescribes a ‘duty of care’ which fiduciaries have to maintain towards their beneficiaries. To what extent can we describe the relation between corporations and their stakeholders in these terms?
Chi Kwok
Economic Theories of the Corporation
Having recently finished my dissertation on workplace democracy and the control of workers in everyday work life, I now turn to the external dimension of corporate power – the ways through which large business corporations exercise their power and their respective normative problems in a democratic society. The central idea of this work-in-progress is that we need an empirically-informed account of corporate power to account for the new types of power that corporations, such as giant tech firms, exercise and ground our normative analysis on such basis. Zuboff’s recent book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (2019) is particularly illuminating.
Tully Rector
Multinationals and Globalization
My present research is concerned with the role of multinationals in the structure of global power relations. How should their particular kind of power be understood? What is the relevance of multinationals’ owing their existence, as distinct agents, to acts of law in their domestic state? Do multinationals depend on, and act to maintain, the absence of a properly civil condition among states? To try to get a handle on these questions, I’m developing conceptions of corporate agency, domination, the deep function of law, imperialism, and freedom in the productive realm—what free productive agency, in a world of discrete states, would really involve or require.
Barbara Bziuk
Theory of Social Justice for Corporations
At the moment, I’m reading on corporate finance and trying to find out how looking at the financialized corporation in particular
might be a valuable perspective for thinking about a political theory of the corporation and social justice issues. For instance, could the realm of financial activity, including financial reporting, provide any tools for combating corporate injustice? There has been a growing field of research investigating the role that accounting can play in making corporations accountable for their environmental and social impact (e.g. Gleeson-White 2020) which I find highly inspiring and promising for my subproject!
Philipp Stehr
Democratic Accountability of the Corporation
I am currently working on what the problem of constituting the demos (Goodin) means for democracy in the corporation. In migration ethics there has been a lively debate on who should get a say in coercive border regimes and what would be legitimate grounds for voting rights. Inspired by this debate, I am looking into whether similar arguments can be made for who gets a say in corporate decision-making. Especially if we think that there are good reasons to make decision-making in corporations more democratic, this question seems very relevant.