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A Neo-Gramscian Approach to Corporate Political Strategy: Conflict and Accommodation in the Climate Change Negotiations


  • David L. Levy
  • Daniel Egan


A neo-Gramscian theoretical framework for corporate political strategy is developed drawing from Gramsci's analysis of the relations among capital, social forces, and the state, and from more contemporary theories. Gramsci's political theory recognizes the centrality of organizations and strategy, directs attention to the organizational, economic, and ideological pillars of power, while illuminating the processes of coalition building, conflict, and accommodation that drive social change. This approach addresses the structure-agency relationship and endogenous dynamics in a way that could enrich institutional theory. The framework suggests a strategic concept of power, which provides space for contestation by subordinate groups in complex dynamic social systems. We apply the framework to analyse the international negotiations to control emissions of greenhouse gases, focusing on the responses of firms in the US and European oil and automobile industries. The neo-Gramscian framework explains some specific features of corporate responses to challenges to their hegemonic position and points to the importance of political struggles within civil society. The analysis suggests that the conventional demarcation between market and non-market strategies is untenable, given the embeddedness of markets in contested social and political structures and the political character of strategies directed toward defending and enhancing markets, technologies, corporate autonomy and legitimacy. Copyright Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2003.

Suggested Citation

  • David L. Levy & Daniel Egan, 2003. "A Neo-Gramscian Approach to Corporate Political Strategy: Conflict and Accommodation in the Climate Change Negotiations," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(4), pages 803-829, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:40:y:2003:i:4:p:803-829

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Marschan-Piekkari, Rebecca & Welch, Denice & Welch, Lawrence, 1999. "In the shadow: the impact of language on structure, power and communication in the multinational," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 421-440, August.
    2. Mahmoud Ezzamel, 2001. "Power, Control and Resistance in 'The Factory That Time Forgot'," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(8), pages 1053-1079, December.
    3. Pippa Carter & Norman Jackson, 2004. "For the Sake of Argument: Towards an Understanding of Rhetoric as Process," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(3), pages 469-491, May.
    4. John Child, 2005. "The Dynamic Between Firms' Environmental Strategies and Institutional Constraints in Emerging Economies: Evidence from China and Taiwan," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(1), pages 95-125, January.
    5. Bill Harley & Cynthia Hardy, 2004. "Firing Blanks? An Analysis of Discursive Struggle in HRM," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(3), pages 377-400, May.
    6. repec:cup:apsrev:v:57:y:1963:i:03:p:632-642_24 is not listed on IDEAS
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