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The Handbook of Global Companies



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Author: John Mikler

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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Publish Date: May 28, 2013

ISBN-10: 470673230

Pages: 544

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

Policy is not something that is exclusively a matter for nation states. Nor is global policy purely a matter of concern for the international and intergovernmental organizations to which they belong. Each volume of the handbooks in this series of Handbooks of Global Policy focuses on particular policy areas (such as global trade, global social policy, and global health policy) or on issues (such as global inequality and poverty, and global migration), and all focus on institutions and governance. However, this Handbook explicitly focuses on perhaps the most important nonstate actors that impact on and drive global policy processes and outcomes: global companies.

As they have grown and become increasingly multinational in their operations, global companies have taken on the mantle of central organizers of the global economy in addition to national economies. They control global markets and industry sectors, and are determiners of “who gets what” and therefore of social outcomes. The relationship that they have with the governments of nations and their citizens is central to any study of global policy. How odd it is then, that aside from studies of international business and management they remain relatively under studied by comparison to the state and society. In particular, in the fields of international relations and comparative politics, and their related sub-fields, it is notable that studying global companies as complex and purposive political and social actors, in addition to economic ones, is still a relatively “cutting edge” endeavor. As I have noted elsewhere, while states and social movements are relatively well drawn, it remains the case that global companies are too often sketched as economic mechanisms of profit maximization, responding to market imperatives and regulations, and sometimes seeking to modify both, given their power to do so.

Global companies are so much more complex than this though. The authors of the chapters in this Handbook see them as political, social, and cultural, as well as economic entities, and examine their centrality in debates about global policy in this light. Some of the authors are emerging scholars. Others are well-established names in their fields. I am flattered to have been given the opportunity to approach them and to find myself in their company, and I thank them unreservedly for their excellent contributions. While there were several senior colleagues who warned me that taking on such an endeavor would be both time consuming and stressful, in
truth thanks to the quality and timeliness of the chapters contributed it has largely been a delight.

As is always the case in any such project, there are many others who deserve mention. Inevitably, I am bound to leave someone out, and I hope they will forgive their unintended omission. My greatest thanks go to David Held, General Editor for the Handbooks of Global Policy series, for his helpful advice and guidance. I am particularly appreciative of the constructive, positive, and timely manner in which this has been offered – his kind words of encouragement and support have helped make the whole endeavor easier. For their support and advice on how to bring the whole Handbook together, and strategies for managing the processes involved, I also thank Ariadne Vromen, Diarmuid Maguire, Graeme Gill, Rodney Smith, and David Schlosberg. For both their words of encouragement and advice on potential contributors, I would particularly like to thank Linda Weiss, Susan Sell, Sol Picciotto, Natalia Nikolova, Miranda Schreurs, Jennifer Clapp, Claudio Radaelli, Kelly Kollman, Aseem Prakash, Michael Edwards, and Robert Wade. I also wish to thank the staff of Wiley-Blackwell for all their support and advice, particularly Ben Thatcher, Justin Vaughan, Sally Cooper, and Karen Raith. As always, I thank my wife, Kara, for her seemingly limitless understanding, much appreciated suggestions, and patience.

The opportunity in editing this Handbook was to present contemporary thought and analysis on the rise of companies that are more global than national, or are substantially transnational in their operations, with this in the context of a wideranging set of volumes on specific aspects of global policy and governance. In the process I have been given the chance to approach those whose work I have long admired, and to become acquainted with those whose research marks them as new and important voices in the field. I can think of no greater pleasure, and I hope that the readers of the Handbook will find it as useful and informative as I have enjoyed editing it.


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