Elites on Trial? The Design of Institutions, Industries, and Organizations
Sigrid Quack with Glenn Morgan, Cardiff Business School, and Paul Hirsch, Northwestern University
The international financial and European sovereign debts crises are challenging the power of economic and political elites. Against this background, this project critically engages with C. Wright Mills’ work on the power elite. Mills saw US society in the 1950s as being ruled by elitist circles who occupied power positions in large organizational bureaucracies located inside the power triangle of the economy, military, and politics. But over the past two decades, globalization, liberalization politics, and financialization have weakened elite networks spanning large corporations. This raises a number of questions about the relationships between elites and institutional design. How are power elites being affected by global networks and market relations replacing national bureaucracies? To what extent do elites still form and reproduce within national contexts, and to what extent is a global elite emerging? In what ways do elites shape the design and development of national and international institutions and organizations, and to what degree are these being used to strategically influence industry? Finally, what organizational resources do elites use to maintain and defend their power in the face of crises, challenges, and resistance from other groups in society, and what resources are their opponents able to mobilize? These questions were discussed by a group of twenty scholars from the US, Europe, Israel, and Asia at the EGOS Colloquium in 2012. An edited volume of selected papers is currently being prepared and will be published as part of the "Sociology of Organizations" series. Project duration: July 2012 to February 2015.