Beyond Public and Private: Toward a Political Theory of the Corporation
American Political Science Review, Vol. 107, No. 1, February 2013
20 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2014
Date Written: February 1, 2013
This article challenges the liberal, contractual theory of the corporation and argues for replacing it with a political theory of the corporation. Corporations are government-like in their powers, and government grants them both their external “personhood” and their internal governing authority. They are thus not simply private. Yet they are privately organized and financed and therefore not simply public. Corporations transgress all the basic dichotomies that structure liberal treatments of law, economics, and politics: public/private, government/market, privilege/equality, and status/contract. They are “franchise governments” that cannot be satisfactorily assimilated to liberalism. The liberal effort to assimilate them, treating them as contractually constituted associations of private property owners, endows them with rights they ought not have, exacerbates their irresponsibility, and compromises their principal public benefit of generating long-term growth. Instead, corporations need to be placed in a distinct category — neither public nor private, but “corporate” — to be regulated by distinct rules and norms.
Keywords: corportion, franchise, neo-liberal
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation