Globalizing Actors in Multinational Companies

In my role as Postdoctoral Research Associate I contribute to work on ‘Globalizing Actors in Multinational Companies,’ an ESRC-funded research project led by Professor Tony Edwards at Loughborough University London and colleagues at the University of East Anglia and University of Leicester. The project seeks to investigate how norms—well-established behaviours, beliefs, and processes within organizations—are created, disseminated across borders, and adapted over time. Our particular interest lies with the ‘globalizing actors,’ i.e. individuals who are responsible for the creation, diffusion, interpretation and negotiation of norms across international operations and the resources they mobilize to help them succeed.

Further information is available on the project’s website.

The Triangle of Institutional Change: Public Discourse, Corporate Practice, and the Law

My recently completed PhD research is concerned with the dynamics of institutional change processes in times of crisis, particularly regarding the role of corporate practices in producing legal change. In its overarching effort to contribute to a contextualized understanding of institutional change processes, my thesis examines how the balance of power between political and corporate actors, the origins of change, and the methods of change vary depending on the context.

The literature has struggled to explain why the global financial crisis (GFC) of 2008-09, has failed to translate into major change to the neoliberal model of capitalism. Arguably, this is due to the literature’s narrow conception of corporate power exerting itself through direct and purposive intervention in the policymaking process—the ’top-down’ view of institutional change. The answer may lie in a broader understanding of corporate influence, incorporating the role of firm practices in shaping the law—the ‘bottom-up’ perspective. Despite mounting consensus on the mechanisms of such change, our wider understanding of it is still limited. In order to explore the role of bottom-up change in times of major crisis, we need to explore its firm-level antecedents and contextualize the dynamics of bottom-up change processes, i.e. how it is mediated by public discourse and crisis situations.

Building on actor-centered institutionalism and incorporating aspects of constructivist and sociological institutionalism, my research contributes to this endeavor by examining a set of interrelated relationships, conceptualized as constituting a triangle between public discourse, corporate practice, and the law. The comparative, mixed-methods research design combines macro-level analysis of legal and regulatory change, micro-level analysis of changes in corporate practice, and change in public discourse in three institutional spheres (finance & accounting, corporate governance, labor relations) across four countries (Switzerland, Germany, United Kingdom, United States) over a 19-year period (1995-2013). While bottom-up change may be limited in scope under ‘normal’ circumstances, they are found to take on a central role during major crises. Direct and purposive channels of corporate influence on legal change become less effective in such circumstances, but the indirect channels of bottom-up change appear to open up and enable the perpetuation of corporate power throughout such events.

My doctoral research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Graduate School at King's College London. 

Other research interests and areas of work

  • The role of MNCs from emerging markets in the global economy and their impact on institutional development

  • Public perception of emerging market MNCs’ activities

  • Value creation and appropriation among the firm’s stakeholders within the institutional context