Little Republics: Authority and the Political Nature of the Firm

Philosophy and Public Affairs 50 (1):90-120 (2021)
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Political theorists have recently sought to replace the liberal, contractual theory of the firm with a political view that models the authority relation of employee to firm, and its appropriate regulation, on that of subject to state. This view is liable to serious difficulties, however, given existing discontinuities between corporate and civil authority as to their coerciveness, entry and exit conditions, scope, legal standing, and efficiency constraints. I here inspect these, and argue that, albeit in some cases significant, such discontinuities fail to undermine the firm/state analogy, either because they are not significant enough to do so or because the particular trait on which they hinge is not decisive for how authority, in the state and in the firm, should be regulated to be legitimate. A pro tanto requirement exists, I thus argue, that corporate authority be held to regulatory norms comparable to those legitimate states abide by, including civil liberties, rule-of-law constraints, and accountability to subjects.

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Iñigo González Ricoy
Universitat de Barcelona


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