Big Corporations and Social Justice

Big corporations are on the rise. For instance, in ten percent of industries in the US, only four firms control the vast majority of the market. Some bigger corporations are more productive and innovative than some small ones. But big corporations also have more market power. They find it easier to set high prices, establish new practices, buy up competitors and influence policies that affect them. Some large corporations provide services and infrastructure that are more crucial than those provided by many government agencies, but are not necessarily held accountable in the same way. Finance is a sector where this has been explicitly acknowledged, with some institutions being labelled as “systemically important”, which are therefore under strong regulatory scrutiny.
In this seminar, we discuss, first, why companies in many sectors are getting bigger and more powerful, and whether this trend might continue. Second, we ask what is the impact of the concentration of power for employees, customers, and society at large? We will consider examples of big global banks, which are heavily regulated, and big tech firms, which aren’t. Third, what should be the role of corporations in society? Do large corporations currently fulfil these expectations? Fourth, which norms, rules, and policies should we pursue to better align the behaviour of big corporations with their social function?

Get the seminar briefing pack.

Philosophy and Economics Programme, University of Bayreuth

Summer 2019, with Carsten Jung

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