The structural power of business: taking structure, agency and ideas seriously

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


External organisations

  • Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, University of Canberra, Australia


The power of business is a very important issue for understanding the operation of democracy, but establishing the nature and extent of its power is not easy. We acknowledge that this is, in large part, an empirical problem and requires a more sophisticated conceptual framework to address it. Attempting to address this, the recent literature on the power of business has increasingly focused on the role of structure, agents and ideas. However, too little attention has been paid to how these concepts are defined and conceptualized. We argue that it is crucial to: specify the structures (economic/political/social) which we see as affecting the role of business; identify the agents, collective and individual, involved and how they interact; and specify which ideas are playing a role, at what level of generality and how these different ideas at different levels of generality interact. This article explores these issues through a critical consideration of the extant literature in order to provide a more developed framework for future empirical analysis.


Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness and Politics
Early online date22 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015