Transnational Corporations and Global Governance: A Review and Agenda

Saturday, June 25, 2016: 4:15 PM-5:45 PM
202 South Hall (South Hall)
Tim Bartley, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
What role have transnational corporations (TNCs) played in global governance, and how have scholars gone about studying it?  In this paper, I argue that scholars have primarily portrayed TNCs as either sponsors, inhibitors, or providers of global governance.  Early research, starting with the growing attention to multi-national corporations in the 1970s, developed the first two characterizations.  As sponsors of global governance, MNCs/TNCs have been viewed as central to the construction of a hegemonic, neoliberal form of global capitalism.  At the same time, TNCs have been portrayed as inhibitors of  strong global governance of labor, environment, and consumer safety.  Recent research is increasingly focused on TNCs as direct providers of global governance, including but not limited to their role in setting standards for sustainability, fairness, and respect in their supply chains.  I argue that TNCs are indeed becoming direct global governors of a sort, but that attention to their role as sponsors and inhibitors of other forms of governance remains critical.