Earth incorporated: centralization and variegation in the global company network

Haberly, Daniel and Wójcik, Dariusz (2016) Earth incorporated: centralization and variegation in the global company network. Economic Geography, 93 (3). pp. 241-266. ISSN 0013-0095

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Over the past 20 years, a widening gulf has appeared between the increasingly internationalized financing arrangements of the world’s leading corporations, and the persistence of nationally compartmentalized approaches to the study of corporate control. In lieu of direct empirical evidence on corporate control at the global level, the most widespread assumption is that the globalization of ownership has taken the form of an expansion of arms-length, market-based arrangements traditionally prevailing in the Anglo-American economies. Here, however, we challenge this assumption, both empirically and conceptually. Empirically, we show that three quarters of the world’s 205 largest firms by sales are linked to a single global company network of concentrated (5%) ownership ties. This network has a hierarchically centralized organization, with a dominant “global network core” of US fund managers ringed by a more geographically diverse “state capitalist periphery.” Conceptually, we argue that the this architecture can be broadly explained through a Polanyian “variegated capitalist” model of contradictory market institutionalization, with the formation of the global company network actually a counterintuitive product of global financial marketization. In order to understand this process of network formation, however, it is necessary to extend Polanyi’s model of a double movement mediated through political interventions in the market, to incorporate Veblenian processes of evolutionary institutional change mediated through the market.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Depositing User: Sharon Krummel
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2017 13:00
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 17:03

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
UnsetUnsetLeverhulme TrustRGS-359