What to Do When Corporations Rule the World A n interview with David C. Korten by Sarah Ruth van Gelder A few jaws dropped among the young activists at a training camp outside Seattle where preparations for the WTO blockade were in high gear. The man who had just joined the circle looked like he might be on his way to a Chamber of Commerce luncheon. But the young activists soon learned that David Korten is a leading critic of corporate globalization.
AS PROTESTS against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters' worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies , mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy. The study's assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable. The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York's Occupy Wall Street movement and protesters elsewhere ( see photo ).
One of the things the Occupy Wall Street movement is protesting, or trying to raise awareness about, is the concentration of wealth and power among financial institutions. What good is democracy if the only voices being heard belong to a small slice of trans-national corporations? New analysis by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich has determined that 147 companies, mainly banks, control the bulk of the world’s economy. The data set was taken from 2007, so it’s possible even less companies are in play, since the information they were working with pre-dated the 2008 economic collapse. Still, it paints a sobering picture of how the economy is dependent less on “Main St.” and more on big business. New Scientist breaks down the trio’s methodology :
The Global Super-Entity Ownership ties among transnational corporations show a cluster of 147 companies can exert enormous power over global corporate networks. Most are financial institutions. S. Vitali, J.B. Glattfelder, and S.
In the first such analysis ever conducted, Swiss economic researchers have conducted a global network analysis of the most powerful transnational corporations (TNCs). Their results have revealed a core of 737 firms with control of 80% of this network, and a “super entity” comprised of 147 corporations that have a controlling interest in 40% of the network’s TNCs. Strongly Connected Component (SCC); layout of the SCC (1318 nodes and 12,191 links). Node size scales logarithmically with operation revenue, node color with network control (from yellow to red). Link color scales with weight.
A recent study conducted by researchers from Zurich found that a ‘super entity’ of 147 companies controls 40% of the entire corporate network. As protests against unbalanced financial power sweep from Wall Street to the rest of the world, an analysis of over 43.000 transnational corporations found that a relatively small group of companies (mainly banks) have a totally disproportionate power over global economy. The work is quite controversial, as some assumptions were made in order to complete the study – and these assumptions were challenged by some. However, most complex system analysts claim that the work is a remarkable effort to untangle control in the global economyş taking the study one step further could lead to finding ways of improving capitalism. The idea that a few groups of banks control the global economy is not new to many, but for the first time, this study has moved from ideology to identifying this network of power.