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Politics of the Corporation


  • The author would like to thank Hugh Willmott and the anonymous reviewers of this article for their thoughtful comments.



The corporate form and its capacity for agency is recognized in political theory, but not adequately understood. As a result, important shifts in the relative position of the state and the corporate form are not addressed. Starting with a historical exploration of the theory of the corporation, I show that the corporate form relies on multiple theoretical backgrounds, which makes it inconsistent. An important part of this inconsistency is the dominance of a post-1970s theory of the corporate form, which formed the background for New Public Management. This theory supported a reduced status of the state and its regulatory powers and an increase of the relative power of the corporate form. I evaluate some consequences of this inconsistent theory for the contemporary debate with regard to the ‘demise of the state’.