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Globalisation and business activism

Eccleston, RG 2004 , 'Globalisation and business activism', in G Curran and E van Acker (eds.), Governing Business and Globalisation, second edition , Pearson Education, Frenchs Forest, NSW, pp. 72-82.

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In an age when economic statistics and surveys of business confidence dominate
news headlines and investment decisions can turn election results, it would seem
that governments have a clear interest in accommodating business needs and
demands. Indeed this dependence on a dynamic and prosperous private sector
forms the basis of the argument that business holds a ‘privileged position’ relative
to other interest groups in a capitalist democracy such as Australia. While no
government would deliberately seek to undermine national prosperity or the
needs of the capitalist system as a whole, such accounts of business power
overlook the political complexities of specific policy debates and decisions. In
reality business interests are fragmented, with corporate actors competing with
one another in policy debates. For example, importers may favour a high exchange
rate while export industries benefit from a lower dollar. Moreover, there are
times when governments may intervene in the economy and undermine business
interests in the pursuit of broader policy and political objectives.
In the current era of globalisation the growing influence of international
market forces and the need to enhance national economic competitiveness
may necessitate a process of economic restructuring. Governments could
promote new and emerging businesses at the expense of struggling industry
sectors. Under these circumstances policy may not be supportive of all industry,
but will focus on the needs of more competitive and innovative firms. These
factors help explain why, at the broadest level, governments have an interest in
providing a policy environment conducive to commercial success, while at the
level of specific policy debates the political influence of business actors is less
The central objective of this chapter is to provide insights into how
Australian business acts politically in this era of globalisation. After providing an
overview of the structure of Australian business the chapter explores the diversity
and organisation of corporate Australian before discussing the political power
of Australian business. Having established this foundation, the focus is then on
business activism and how business endeavours to use its political power to
influence public policy. The chapter concludes with an evaluation of the political
influence of Australian business in this era of globalisation.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Eccleston, RG
Publisher: Pearson Education
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