Published 12 February 2020
The role of multinational corporations as market regulators, although commonly accepted among scholars, has rarely been assessed from a structural point of view. Corporations, as legal entities, exercise prerogatives, within the global market, that closely resemble, to some extent, those of states. Indeed, their legitimacy and inner hierarchy are founded over the same anthropological and sociological justifications that ensure the functioning of sovereign entities. One of these justifications is undoubtedly the functional approach to economic planning. Economic operators in corporate form widely employ forms of long-term planning through mechanisms and decision-making processes directly relatable to provisions developed by the most advanced countries in terms of planning law, such as the People's Republic of China. On account of such structural analogy, when corporations and economic entities are state-controlled - more or less directly - a peculiar phenomenon may occur: the State, through formally private economic operators, may pursue long-term development strategies. In order to do so, it not only exploits the inner management structures of the corporation, but it also lays out regulatory frameworks which often are meant to promote corporations' investments. The purpose of the paper is to briefly sketch some of the main features and issues, from a legal perspective, of this global phenomenon. In the first place, the topic will be discussed from the general point of view of legal anthropology, by defining the role of States and Corporations in the market, to be regarded as a society where the "power" may be either centralized or diffused according to the dynamics in place. In the "society of market" States and Corporations interact with each other also through long-term planning strategies. Therefore, the second part of the analysis is focused on the assessment of corporations and state-controlled entities (such as sovereign wealth funds) planning strategies and rules. In particular, it will be pointed out such rules are elaborated, implemented and enforced in a similar way to state plans. On the third and last part of the analysis, the point discussed will be the legal interaction between States and corporation, by pointing out how States may use legal instrument to exert their influence over corporations and pursue specific objectives. Some conclusive remarks will be carried out, regarding the influence that such phenomenon might have over the very notion of State and State power in the modern global market.
This paper will be part of the TDM Special Issue on "The Changing Paradigm of State-controlled Entities Regulation: Laws, Contracts and Disputes". More information here www.transnational-dispute-management.com/news.asp?key=1719