For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Towards a Justification of the Firm/State Analogy

by Landemore, Helene E; Ferreras, Isabelle (2012)


In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis an important conceptual battleground for democratic theorists ought to be, it would seem, the capitalist firm. We are now painfully aware that the typical model of government in so-called “investor-owned” firms remains profoundly oligarchic, hierarchical, and unequal. Inequalities in decision power, status, and compensation may not be a problem from an efficiency point of view, but they ought to raise some questions from the point of view of justice. However, democratic theorists have paid little attention to the question of democracy in the firm. In this paper, we take a first step at correcting this oversight by focusing specifically on the analogy between firms and states that appears to be the lynchpin for arguing that like states, firms too ought to be run on democratic lines. Specifically, we critically consider seven important objections to the firm/state analogy, and find them all wanting conceptually, logically, or normatively. Our goal is to pave the way for a more in-depth study of the ways in which firms and states can be compared and the possible implications this may have for our understanding of the nature of managerial authority and the governance of firms.


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Democracy and Work

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