chapter  7
6 Pages

Postscript: doing research

ByDoreen Massey, Richard Meegan

Policies towards the corporate sector The next question, then, might be ‘how to intervene?’ Given that the capitalist economy and its geography are dominated by the activities of large, multi-plant, multinational corporations, what can and should policy be towards these? If it is accepted that policy should go beyond that o f simply accommodating to their locational and production strategies and actually attempt directly to influence their behaviour, the question, then, is often seen as a purely tactical one. How can sufficient coun­ tervailing power and leverage be achieved? Collaboration between national governments? International combines of trade unions? It could be argued, however, that the question of intervention is a more fundamental one than this. Corporations are seen, in this scenario, as the agents of change. Indeed this is precisely the reason why policies are directed towards them - they are ‘to blame’. But blamed for what? One position is to assume that, because of what we have called the behavioural element in their operation, they are somehow acting irrationally and that policy is required simply to make them act in a more rational way. A more common argument is to accept that they are behaving perfectly rationally on their own terms but that policy is still required to make them change their behaviour. The problem then, of course, is what sense is there in making capitalist enterprises operate in a non-capitalist manner? If these companies cannot com­ pete internationally will they, or the parts affected by policy at least, not go under eventually? Does the problem lie not with the ‘agents’ as such but with the structure of which they form part, and the system in which they operate?