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The Business Corporation as a Political Actor

Publications Rutger Claassen

Publications 2021

“The legitimacy of corporations in a liberal democracy” (Dutch: “De legitimiteit van bedrijven in een liberale democratie”)

Rutger Claassen, “The legitimacy of corporations in a liberal democracy” (Dutch: De legitimiteit van bedrijven in een liberale democratie”, Working Paper for the Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR). https://www.wrr.nl/publicaties/working-papers/2021/05/31/de-legitimiteit-van-bedrijven-in-een-liberale-democratie.

“A Regular Social Audit Will Steer Business to Entrepeneurship for Societal Value”

Rutger Claassen, “A Regular Social Audit Will Steer Business to Entrepeneurship for Societal Value” in Economische-Statische Berichten 106 (2021).

For English, click here.

For Dutch, click here.

“Politieke partijen zetten in op reparatie kapitalisme”

Rutger Claassen and Kees Cools, “Politieke partijen zetten in op reparatie kapitalisme” in ESB (2021).

Only available in Dutch, click here.

“Hobbes meets the Modern Business Corporation”

Rutger Claassen, “Hobbes Meets the Modern Business Corporation” in polity (2021). https://doi.org/10.1086/712231

Abstract
Political theory today has expanded its scope to debate business corporations, conceiving of them as political actors, not (just) private actors in the market place. This article shows the continuing relevance of Thomas Hobbes’s work for this debate. Hobbes is commonly treated as a defender of the so-called concession theory, which traces the legitimacy of corporations to their being chartered by sovereign state authorities for public purposes. This theory is widely judged to be anachronistic for contemporary business corporations, because these can now be freely formed, on the basis of private initiative. However, a close reading of the crucial passages in Hobbes’s work reveals a more subtle view, which rejects this private/public dualism. Hobbes’s reflections on the companies of merchants of his day provide room for business corporations’ pursuit of private purposes, while keeping them embedded in a public framework of authority. Moreover, by criticizing the monopoly status of these companies, he opens up a way to integrate market failure arguments from modern economics into concession theory. The “neo-Hobbesian concession theory” emerging from this analysis shows how concession theory can accommodate private initiative and economic analysis, and thus be a relevant position in the debate about the modern business corporation.