Inderscience Publishers

Corporate states or corporate citizens? Chess between corporations, states and citizens with sustainable development at stake

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The economies of large states are run by large corporations. Smaller states have become single corporate states. Yet companies claim to be corporate citizens, talking about their responsibilities towards society. States used to have lots of power and responsibility; citizens little power and responsibility. Are corporations breaking this bond of balance by taking lots of power as corporate states but little responsibility as corporate citizens? Sustainable development is a prime example of such a prospect. While governments serve corporate whims, citizens organise themselves into nongovernmental organisations. This paper analyses the power/responsibility tug-of-war between corporations, states and citizens in different societies from three complementary angles: economic ideology, ethical stance and psychological profile. Case studies show six patterns of corporate behaviour: kings, queens, rooks, bishops, knights and pawns, exemplified by companies from Finland, the USA, Norway, the UK/Netherlands, Nigeria/Kenya and China/Russia, respectively. The resulting chess model helps different actors find power/responsibility balances.

Keywords: chess model, corporate citizens, corporate states, corporations, ethics, economic ideology, power, psychological profile, responsibility, sustainable development, sustainability

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