Geometry of Corporate Control: The Neoliberal State Approach to Property and Class Power in Russia
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This dissertation examines the impact of the neoliberal reforms and the adoption of the modern principles of corporate governance on the redistribution of economic power in society. The shareholder-centered model of corporate governance has accompanied market reforms across the world on the premise of broadening individual access to economic power. In contrast to this premise, the restructuring of the governance system in the Russian industrial economy in the 1990s led to a concentration of economic power and wealth by domestic elites. This study examines the institutionalization of concentrated corporate control in Russia in the comparative and global contexts, drawing on historical sociological research on the large corporation in the advanced capitalist economies. My empirical analysis is based on data collected from state-issued documents and original corporate reports, and involves a combination of methods including textual analysis and social network analysis. I demonstrate that mass privatization occurred after the state relinquished control of industrial enterprises through a sequence of changes in the legal framework. The state established the joint-stock corporation as a key institution that excluded the state and labor from the new system of corporate governance and eliminated the mechanisms of public accountability. This framework was utilized throughout the 1990s to pass corporate ownership and leadership into the hands of the elites, enabling them to concentrate control over massive capital assets. I argue that this outcome was not inevitable; it was, instead, a consequence of the state actions that transformed the organization of the Soviet economic governance by imposing key principles of the shareholder-centered corporate governance and the ideology of neoliberal globalization. A multivariate network analysis of the emergent business structure in Russia reveals that by 2001 Russia had a structure distinct enough to constitute a new type of corporate structure, that nevertheless exhibited emergent features consistent with the trends affecting other industrial economies. I argue that concentrated corporate ownership, taken together with other characteristics symptomatic of the neoliberal globalization, has congealed into a corporate system undergoing a"path generating" process of institutional change, rather than a failure to converge with the dominant models of corporate capitalism.