The network of global corporations and elite policy groups: a structure for transnational capitalist class formation?

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Abstract

This study situates five top transnational policy–planning groups within the larger structure of corporate power that is constituted through interlocking directorates among the world's largest companies. Each group makes a distinct contribution towards transnational capitalist hegemony both by building consensus within the global corporate elite and by educating publics and states on the virtues of one or another variant of the neo–liberal paradigm. Analysis of corporate–policy interlocks reveals that a few dozen cosmopolitans – primarily men based in Europe and North America and actively engaged in corporate management – knit the network together via participation in transnational interlocking and/or multiple policy groups. As a structure underwriting transnational business activism, the network is highly centralized, yet from its core it extends unevenly to corporations and individuals positioned on its fringes. The policy groups pull the directorates of the world's major corporations together, and collaterally integrate the lifeworld of the global corporate elite, but they do so selectively, reproducing regional differences in participation. These findings support the claim that a well–integrated global corporate elite has formed, and that global policy groups have contributed to its formation. Whether this elite confirms the arrival of a transnational capitalist class is a matter partly of semantics and partly of substance.

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