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The Transformation of Corporate Organization in Europe: An Overview

Опубликовано на портале: 07-02-2008
MPIfG Working Paper. 2001.  No. 8.
Very large firms, the rising significance of small and medium-sized enterprises notwithstanding, still account for most of the employment and wealth creation in Europe and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. They also to a large extent determine the political institutions that regulate the relationship between economy and society, in particular the status of workers and the way in which the public interest is brought to bear on the economy. This overview on the current transformation of corporate organization in Europe begins by asking whether there is in fact a European model of the large firm, despite the considerable differences that exist between European countries, and to what extent European integration is likely to bring about convergence on a more uniform pattern. Next, it reviews the changes in the organization of large European firms and in corporate governance in Europe during the 1990s, which took place in response to the evolution of two of the major "task environments" of firms, product markets and financial markets. Third, the paper discusses the consequences of corporate transformation for the social embeddedness of large European firms, especially the challenges posed by the ongoing changes in corporate organization to European systems of industrial citizenship of workers and to the capacity of European states and governments to hold large firms socially accountable. In conclusion, the paper emphasizes the growing autonomy of large firms as strategic actors and comments on the problems of corporate adjustment under high and endemic uncertainty.