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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Postgraduate Course: The Political Economy of Corporate Power (PGSP11617)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines the governance of the global economy by private corporations. It is structured around several fundamental questions. What role do corporations play in international institutions and what is the nature and extent of their authority? How do the shifting forces of globalization (and anti-globalization) affect the power business wields to shape public policies? In what ways do new trends in corporate sustainability (like conscious capitalism, corporate social responsibility and business for good) impact corporate lobbying? Finally, how powerful are corporations in global politics? In seeking answers to these questions, this course covers both theoretical and empirical perspectives on how, when, and why corporations are able to influence international institutions, global standards and regulations, and international negotiation processes.
Course description Academic Description:
The course has two parts. First, it reviews different theoretical approaches to analyzing how corporate influence over global public policymaking operates, and what challenges we face in understanding these dynamics. These approaches include, for example: population ecology, exchange and economic theories of lobbying, politicization, issue attention cycle, and informational models of lobbying. Second, it reviews scholarship on corporate lobbying dynamics in a variety of different areas in global governance, such as international trade, pharmaceuticals and health care, financial regulation, intellectual property rights and global environmental politics. The European Union is used a focal case for comparison with intergovernmental and regional organizations.

Outline Content:
Indicative topics include: Corporate Lobbying Strategies; Balancing Corporate Lobbying: Advocacy & Social Movements; Interest Group Intermediation and Regulation; Transnational Corporate Elites and the Global Economy; Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Lobbying; Financial Industry Lobbying; Lobbying, Data Protection, and Internet Governance; Platform Firms and the New World of Lobbying; Practitioners perspective on lobbying: careers, training, prospects.

Student Learning Experience:
The course teaches students how to think critically about corporate lobbying and influence in global public policymaking. Through a combination of lectures and seminars, students learn how to identify and understand the different means that private sector groups use to shape different aspects of global governance and global and regional policymaking. Through the use of multiple case studies, students learn how some of the most important facets of the global economy today are being shaped by private sector actors. Students are also encouraged to think analytically and critically about the role of corporations, lobbyists, market forces, and how global governance operates by exploring the limitations to private sector influence. Finally, assessments are both practical and academic. The practical element sees students developing and presenting campaign pitches on a real-world governance case study. Effort will be made to bring in guest speakers from the corporate lobbying sector to give students a practitioner's view of the topic. The academic element sees students develop and support an argument related to current debates in the literature on corporate lobbying and policymaking.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 80 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Research Paper (3,000 words) 70% «br /»
15 Minute Group Campaign Pitch 20% «br /»
Campaign Tear Sheet (500 words) 10%
Feedback Feedback on all assessed work shall normally be returned within three weeks of submission. Where this is not possible, students shall be given clear expectations regarding the timing and methods of feedback. Feedback on the tear sheet and campaign pitch will be received by students before they submit the essay and thus will serve a formative function.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an advanced critical understanding of the role of corporation in the global economy and in the broader context of social, political, and economic transformations.
  2. Explain how the academic study of the corporation has impacted the disciplines of political science, public policy, development studies, and economics.
  3. Critically engage in debates about globalization, financialization, and corporate power, as well as the other themes of the course.
  4. Analyse the role of corporations in global governance processes and international public policymaking.
  5. Identify key policy global public policy challenges and the promises and perils of corporate political activity at the global level.
Reading List
Harris, P. A. Bitonti, C. Fleisher, and A. Binderkrantz eds. (2022) The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Interest Groups, Lobbying and Public Affairs. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

Baldwin, R. M. Cave, and M. Lodge eds. (2010). Oxford Handbook of Regulation, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Baumgartner, F. R., J. M. Berry, M. Hojnacki, B. L. Leech & D. C. Kimball, (2009). Lobbying and policy change: Who wins, who loses, and why. University of Chicago Press.

Mahoney, C. (2008). Brussels versus the Beltway. Advocacy in the United States and the European Union, Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

Hula, K. W. (1999). Lobbying Together. Interest Group Coalitions in Legislative Politics. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Critical thinking and analysis through the analysis of the role of the corporation in the global economy
- Research skills through the execution of a research essay
- Effective communication skills through discussion, debate and small-group work 
- Working with others in small-group activities and presentations
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Adam Chalmers
Course secretaryMs Emilia Czatkowska
Tel: (0131 6)51 3244
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