Luck, Systematic Luck and Business Power: Lucky All the Way Down or Trying Hard to get What it Wants without Trying?



Keith Dowding argues that business is systematically lucky in a capitalist society because it often gets what it wants without trying due to the way society is structured. But what ought to count here is not only how society is structured but why it is structured in certain ways and this means grappling with the dynamics of the structure–agency dialectic. Dowding overestimates the degree to which business is systematically lucky and underestimates the degree to which it is powerful because he fails to recognise the way in which business can shape the structures whose existence allows it to get what it wants without trying. We examine the position of two very different groups: British farmers and US bankers. British farmers were systematically lucky in the post-war years in the sense that they benefited from events outside their control. The US banking sector was lucky in 2008 because it was ‘too big to fail’. But the banks had previously used their power to shape this outcome.