Assignment 3: Business and Governance

Introduction to Assignment

In modules 5 and 6, you've learned about the historical change in capitalism and about how heterodox economists approach understanding the workings and influence of large business enterprises.  One of the things that heterodox economists emphasize is that businesses actively organize governance structures across individual markets and industries, as well as across entire economies.  These structures define what can be owned and sold, how competitors will interact with each other, legal norms, and many other elements of what could be called 'the rules of the game'.  (Note that 'governance structure' here does not mean the same as 'the government'.  While a government body–for instance, a city council, state legislature, supreme court, or the US Congress–may be involved, the governance structure of a market could just as well have been developed in the form a private agreements, contracts, or 'understandings' between businesses.  Likewise, it could be reflected in the the 'corporate culture', for instance, that favors employees with backgrounds in finance for leadership roles in large corporations.)  

Assignment Details

In this assignment, you will find a newspaper or magazine article that discusses:

1. some element of the governance structure in which businesses operate, and

2. how businesses have sought to influence that structure

Once you've found and read your article, you will write an essay of 400-800 words which will include the following

· A reference to where the article can be found (the name and edition of the newspaper or magazine, or simply the URL link to the webpage)

· A brief summary of the article

· An explanation of how this is an instance of businesses influencing the governance structure in which they operate (see below for full details of what is expected in this regard)

· A reflection on the economic, political, social, technological, and/or moral significance of the article

Your essay should be explicit about…

· what (private, for-profit) businesses are involved,

· what their interests are,

· what elements of the governance structure (the 'rules of the game') of their markets are at issue,

· how the market governance structure impacts those business' interests, and

· how those businesses have sought to develop, oppose, or change that governance structure.

Your essay should also explicitly draw one or more connections to the course material from modules 5 and 6.


For instance, a recent CNet article describes the joint lobbying efforts of Uber and Lyft to overturn regulations in Austin, Texas concerning background checks for the ride-sharing companies' drivers.  In this instance, the particular element of governance structure is the background checks for Uber and Lyft's drivers.  This, of course, affects the costs and speed of hiring for the two companies as well as the likelihood of criminal behavior by the drivers.  Explicit connections could be drawn between this story and the Megacorp chapter in your textbook, for instance, which mentions Uber specifically.  Or you could discuss the companies' lobbying efforts as an attempt to influence the structure of the production process, indicated by arrow 1 in figure 4 of that chapter.

Grading Criteria

Your submission will be graded according to the following criteria:

· Appropriate article, including reference and summary

· Appropriate length

· Demonstrating an understanding of the relevant course material (lectures and textbook) and how it relates to your topic

· Constructing a well-reasoned, clear essay in your own words.  (Be sure to avoid excessive quoting and to avoid plagiarism.  For more information, refer to the syllabus.)

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