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Book part
Publication date: 10 February 2015

Mairi Maclean, Charles Harvey and Gerhard Kling

Bourdieu’s construct of the field of power has received relatively little attention despite its novelty and theoretical potential. This paper explores the meaning and…

Abstract

Bourdieu’s construct of the field of power has received relatively little attention despite its novelty and theoretical potential. This paper explores the meaning and implications of the construct, and integrates it into a wider conception of the formation and functioning of elites at the highest level in society. Drawing on an extensive dataset profiling the careers of members of the French business elite, it compares and contrasts those who enter the field of power with those who fail to qualify for membership, exploring why some succeed as hyper-agents while others do not. The alliance of social origin and educational attainment, class and meritocracy, emerges as particularly compelling. The field of power is shown to be relatively variegated and fluid, connecting agents from different life worlds. Methodologically, this paper connects biographical data of top French directors with the field of power in France in a novel way, while presenting an operationalization of Bourdieu’s concept of the field of power as applied to the French elite.

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Book part
Publication date: 8 April 2013

Debra Schleef

Purpose – In this chapter, I examine critically the assumption in the literature that many lawyers decide to leave the practice of law, and especially large law firms, due…

Abstract

Purpose – In this chapter, I examine critically the assumption in the literature that many lawyers decide to leave the practice of law, and especially large law firms, due to lawyer dissatisfaction. I take a macro focus on employee flows and networks at large law firms, particularly at the elite level.Methodology/approach – I use a large archival data set of alumni data, internal memos, and newsletters from the 1930s through the 1990s from four large New York City corporate law firms. I perform statistical analysis of 2800 cases. I also include qualitative analysis of the newsletters and firm records of comings and goings. I analyze lawyer migration as a mobility project of lawyers in conjunction with Domhoff#x02019;s class-domination theory to explain the interconnectedness of the corporate community, policy networks, governmental positions, the federal judiciary, and high-powered private lawyers.Findings – I explore the various ways that lawyer migration benefits the original firm by creating or strengthening relationships with other large law firms, corporate clients, and governmental organizations. It is clear that most lawyer departures are not meant to signal negative outcomes. Elite lawyers in large firms make both corporate and political connections through their migration, connections that have important repercussions not only for the lawyers but from their original firms.Originality/value of chapter – A fundamental question for sociological analyses of elite professions, and a more practical concern in the field of legal studies, is why do so many lawyers decide to leave the practice of law? The focus of these accounts, both journalistic and academic, is on the fact that lawyers leave – and, in particular, that they leave the practice of law entirely. The explanatory variable, in many cases, is some variation on individual lawyer dissatisfaction. Instead, I show that most lawyer departures are not meant to signal negative outcomes. Lawyer migration benefits the original firm by creating or strengthening relationships with other large law firms, corporate clients, and governmental organizations.

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Networks, Work and Inequality
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-539-5

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Book part
Publication date: 23 November 2011

Donald Palmer and Matthew Zafonte

Recent theory and research suggests that local relational networks among business organizations play an important role in establishing and preserving a locale's identity…

Abstract

Recent theory and research suggests that local relational networks among business organizations play an important role in establishing and preserving a locale's identity. Such networks facilitate the development, dissemination, and enforcement of norms and cognitive frames that guide local business behavior. They also provide a vehicle for the consolidation of local business interests and for the coordination of local business strategic action. We examine the factors that influenced the likelihood that the CEOs of large corporations sat on the board of directors of large locally headquartered commercial banks in the 1960s. We focused on the 1960s because doing so allows us to make use of an exceptional comprehensive data set on the attributes and relationships of large firms and their leaders. We examine connections to commercial banks because these banks played a crucial role in community development in the 1960s. We find that both the class attributes of corporate CEOs (as reflected in their ownership of the firm and their affiliation with elite educational, social, and policy-making institutions) and the organizational attributes of their firms (as reflected in their financial structure, geographic reach, and age) influenced a CEO's propensity to sit on the board of a locally headquartered bank. These results suggest that future research on participation in local relational networks should take into account both class and organizational theories. They also suggest that future research on the class and organizational underpinnings of relational networks should pay closer attention to spatial relations.

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Communities and Organizations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-284-5

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Book part
Publication date: 5 April 2012

Mike Reed

This chapter reviews three analytical perspectives – ‘structural’, ‘network’ and ‘cultural’ – on the study of power and their implications for theorizing elites. It builds…

Abstract

This chapter reviews three analytical perspectives – ‘structural’, ‘network’ and ‘cultural’ – on the study of power and their implications for theorizing elites. It builds on this initial theoretical review by developing a critical realist approach to the study of organizational elites out of the structurally based perspective identified in the first section of the chapter. The explanatory potential of this critical realist approach is then illustrated through two case studies of ruling elites embedded in contrasting historical, political and social contexts. The final section of the chapter provides a discussion of the wider implications of these case study analyses for understanding and explaining the ‘new feudalism’ which is emerging in advanced political economies and societies.

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Rethinking Power in Organizations, Institutions, and Markets
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-665-2

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Book part
Publication date: 10 February 2015

Antoine Vion, François-Xavier Dudouet and Eric Grémont

The paper examines the degree of interlocking directorships across the major Eurozone economies. It uses the major stock market indices in France, Germany, Italy, the…

Abstract

The paper examines the degree of interlocking directorships across the major Eurozone economies. It uses the major stock market indices in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium to identify the top of the corporate elite in each country. For the period of 2005–2008, it studies transnational links between European companies. The paper draws attention to a number of features of these interlocks. Firstly transnational interlocks remain relatively low but secondly they do vary considerably. An important issue here is the degree of bilateral integration which is occurring between some countries within the Eurozone, for example France and Belgium, and the degree to which other countries, most notably, Italy are increasingly disconnected, whilst the two most powerful economies, France and Germany, are very weakly connected. This variability reflects a series of structural divides between big business in the Eurozone that makes it difficult for this corporate elites to be cohesive at the European level.

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Elites on Trial
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-680-5

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Article
Publication date: 7 October 2014

Mairi Maclean and Charles Harvey

The purpose of this study is to explore some of the distinctive features of organizing and organization in France which set it apart from organization in other nations…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to explore some of the distinctive features of organizing and organization in France which set it apart from organization in other nations, and which are fundamental to its modus operandi. In particular, this article is concerned with elite connectivity and concerted action by elite “connectors”.

Design/methodology/approach

The research underpinning this article stems from a cross-national comparative project on business elites and corporate governance in France and the UK. This has three dimensions, being quantitative, qualitative and case study-based. Concerted action by the ruling elite is explored through two illustrative vignettes: the ousting from office of Jean-Marie Messier and State-sponsored expansion as pursued by EDF. Both examples shed light on the French business elite’s response to globalization and the development of international business.

Findings

The paper finds elite cohesion to be achieved quite differently in the two countries. In addition, it finds that the ties that bind French connectors tend to be strong and institutionally based.

Practical implications

The case of EDF suggests that the most ambitious of State-sponsored strategies can also be the most successful. It implies that elite ideologies in France have deviated relatively little from sentiments expressed by Rousseau and de Gaulle concerning the primacy of the national interest and the conviction that firms can serve as an (expansionist) instrument of the nation. The Messier case illuminates the pattern of close relationships among the French business elite. It demonstrates how a strategy of expansion may come unstuck when it is not grounded in the customary modes of business regulation.

Originality/value

This research confirms a slight preference on the part of the French business elite for more homogenous ties. Against this, the paper demonstrates that a significant proportion of the French elite act as boundary spanners, brokering relationships with others from more distant parts of the wider network. The integration of the French elite in the Eurozone has potentially favored bridge-building relationships and weakened national embeddedness. This may contribute to the decline of indigenous interlocks, while promoting the further internationalization of top management teams. The implications of this for organizational strategy, firm survival and economic performance form an agenda for future research.

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International Journal of Organizational Analysis, vol. 22 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1934-8835

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 2006

Sibel Yamak

Historical and institutional influences on the backgrounds of business élites have received little attention despite the fact that they are closely related to corporate

Abstract

Purpose

Historical and institutional influences on the backgrounds of business élites have received little attention despite the fact that they are closely related to corporate governance issues. The present study aims to examine the issue of continuity and change in the characteristics of the business élite over a period of some 60 years between 1923 and 1980 in Turkey, a late‐industrializing country, where significant changes have taken place in the politico‐economic environment of business and the context of industrial development has evolved from étatisme towards family‐dominated big business.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper attempts to substantiate the arguments on the institutional roots of business élite characteristics by drawing upon all previous studies conducted on Turkish business élites for the period 1923‐1980. For comparative purposes the study also makes reference to other élite groups in the country, namely, managers of state economic enterprise and upper echelons in the state bureaucracy.

Findings

Continuity and change in business élites seem to be closely related to alterations in the politico‐economic environment. For the “managerial” class, while business experience might have been most important in the early years of the republic, high‐level education has clearly been a pre‐condition in the latter period. High education level and political capital of “bureaucrat‐managers” may have eased one‐way flow of professionals from state to private sector, especially following the “ruralizing elections” in this state‐dependent context.

Originality/value

This paper thus especially aims to unravel the genesis and development of business professionals, a subgroup of business élites who have been neglected so far in Turkish management literature.

Details

Society and Business Review, vol. 1 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5680

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Article
Publication date: 13 March 2017

Stephen J. Perkins

The purpose of this paper is to reflect theoretically on a quarter-century of attempts to codify “best practice” standards related to oversight of and reporting on…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reflect theoretically on a quarter-century of attempts to codify “best practice” standards related to oversight of and reporting on executive remuneration. Issues around the regulation of UK executive remuneration are analysed focussing on decision making by elite actors, informed by corporate governance codification artefacts and theoretical considerations inspired by notions of the social construction of reality.

Design/methodology/approach

Using documentary materials to trace evolution of executive remuneration regulation in the UK, consideration is given to the social antecedents of processes governing corporate board remuneration committee practices. The paper reconstructs the social construction of the UK Corporate Governance Code and draws on relevant theoretically inclined literature to help make sense of processes involved.

Findings

Shaping the problems, to be addressed as “legitimate problems”, is core to efforts intended to create “persuasive narratives” around how UK executive remuneration should be regulated.

Research limitations/implications

The paper sketches an agenda for subsequent empirical “field” investigation to assess the social antecedents of UK executive remuneration outcomes.

Practical implications

Offering an alternative way of thinking about executive reward and on-going controversy as to how it may be legitimately regulated, informed by contextual considerations.

Originality/value

A novel look at executive remuneration from a social construction of reality perspective. Adding value to public debate on organisational effectiveness at a time of warnings from luminaries such as the Bank of England governor about the adverse social impact of “stateless companies” and calls for action against unfairness in income distribution.

Details

Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, vol. 4 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2051-6614

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Book part
Publication date: 1 October 2008

Val Burris

This chapter examines interlocks among the governing boards of 12 leading policy-planning organizations and changes in the structure of this network between 1973 and 2000…

Abstract

This chapter examines interlocks among the governing boards of 12 leading policy-planning organizations and changes in the structure of this network between 1973 and 2000. Methods of multidimensional scaling and hierarchical clustering are used to construct topographical maps of the pattern of interlocks among policy-planning groups and their change over time. In contrast to the findings on corporate interlocking directorates, the study shows that board interlocks among policy-planning organizations are substantively meaningful and relatively stable at the dyadic level, although several changes in the topology of the network are also found. In all three decades, big-business “moderate-conservatives” like the Business Council and the Business Roundtable occupied the most central locations in the network. In the 1970s these organizations were linked with the “corporate liberals” to form the core cluster of the policy network. In the 1980s and 1990s the corporate liberals became relatively isolated from the core and their places were taken by several conservative groups. There was also a sharp rise in the cohesion of the network in the late 1970s and 1980s – a period that is widely seen as one of conservative political mobilization and heightened political unity among business elites. These changes in the structure of the policy network are consistent with and help to account for the rightward shift in U.S. state policy during this period.

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Politics and Public Policy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84855-178-7

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Article
Publication date: 2 January 2009

Laura L. Hansen

The purpose of this viewpoint paper is to assist in finding solutions for the growing moral and social issues of financial crime plaguing corporations today.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this viewpoint paper is to assist in finding solutions for the growing moral and social issues of financial crime plaguing corporations today.

Design/methodology/approach

Methodology includes the synthesis of existing theories in economic sociology and criminology to “diagnose” and “treat” the existing flaws in corporate structures that have led to malaise and malfeasance. Theories include differential association, self‐control, and control balance, taking into consideration the characteristics of individuals and corporate structures.

Findings

Findings suggest that corporate structure has to be critically scrutinized and changes implemented, including close examination of informal and formal communication and salary structures.

Practical implications

This paper suggests concrete strategies and policy changes for regulators, corporate decision makers, and academics.

Originality/value

The synthesis of existing theories in white collar malfeasance and crime provides a template to increase corporate social responsibility and promote policy/regulatory changes in the current economic climate.

Details

Journal of Financial Crime, vol. 16 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-0790

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