An earlier version of this article was presented at a study group at Chatham House, London, on 7 September 2012. The author is grateful to all participants at that meeting, particularly Amrita Narlikar, Caroline Soper and Stephen Woolcock, for their comments. George Frynas, Gian Luca Gardini, David Levi-Faur, Johan Lindeque and an anonymous referee also offered valuable comments and suggestions.
Multinationals and NGOs amid a changing balance of power
Article first published online: 15 MAY 2013
© 2013 The Author(s). International Affairs © 2013 The Royal Institute of International Affairs.
Special Issue: Negotiating the rise of new powers
Volume 89, Issue 3, pages 695–710, May 2013
How to Cite
McGUIRE, S. (2013), Multinationals and NGOs amid a changing balance of power. International Affairs, 89: 695–710. doi: 10.1111/1468-2346.12040
- Issue published online: 15 MAY 2013
- Article first published online: 15 MAY 2013
The role of private non-state actors in global governance has focused largely on western actors, notably firms and non-governmental organizations. The rise of new economic powers presents us with an opportunity to consider whether and how the place of non-state actors might evolve. This is particularly true where emerging market firms are concerned, as they are the most obvious manifestation of the shift in economic power away from the developed West and Japan. The article suggests, however, that the current international system satisfies most of the demands that firms from rising powers might make, so they have little incentive to define their policy preferences in opposition to established powers. They can conduct political activity across a range of avenues, from multilateral institutions to regulatory bodies overseeing technical aspects of business operations. Indeed, the disaggregation of modern capitalism makes the last route particularly important and attractive for firms. As such, they do not need to frame their policy demands solely—or even mainly—in terms of balancing against western economic dominance. For non-governmental organizations, the emerging power structure has eroded their previous role of advocates for developing economies. The economic growth of emerging markets has, however, given NGOs an opportunity to work with multinationals in the provision of public goods.