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Business and Politics

Editor-in-Chief: Aggarwal, Vinod K.

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Volume 17, Issue 3 (Oct 2015)


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

David Marsh
  • Corresponding author
  • Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, University of Canberra, Australia
  • Email:
/ Sadiya Akram
  • Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, University of Canberra, Australia
/ Holly Birkett
  • Birmingham Business School, UK
Published Online: 2015-05-22 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bap-2015-0001


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.


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About the article

Corresponding author: David Marsh, Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, University of Canberra, Australia, e-mail:

Published Online: 2015-05-22

Published in Print: 2015-10-01

Citation Information: Business and Politics, ISSN (Online) 1469-3569, ISSN (Print) 1369-5258, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bap-2015-0001. Export Citation

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