His Master’s Voice? The Role of Business in the World Economic Forum

Adrienne Sörbom, Christina Garsten

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


    This paper departs from an interest in the involvement of business leaders in the sphere of politics, in the broad sense. Many global business leaders today do much more than engage narrowly in their own corporation and its search for profit. At a general level, we are seeing a proliferation of usages of non-market corporate strategies, such as testimony, lobbying, interlocking of positions and other means to influence policymakers at all levels of government and international institutions as an adjunct to the firm’s market strategies. Conversely, there is an enhanced interest on the part of policymakers to influence firm behaviour through multi-stakeholder involvement, public – private agreements and networks forms of governance. The paper brings to the fore the role of corporations in the World Economic Forum, and how firms act through the WEF to advance their interests, financial as well as political. What is the role of business in the World Economic Forum, and how do business corporations advance their interests through the WEF?
    The results show that corporations find a strategically positioned amplifier for their non-market interests in the WEF. The WEF functions to enhance and gain leverage for their ideas and priorities in a highly selective and resourceful environment. In the long run, both the market priorities and the political interests of business may be served by engagement in the WEF.
    However, the WEF cannot only be conceived as the extended voice of corporations. The WEF also makes use of the corporations to organize and expand their own agency, which not necessarily coincides with the interests of multinational corporations. By way of corporate financial resources, the tapping of knowledge and expertise, and access to vast networks of business relations, the WEF is also able to amplify its own voice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2013
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
Workshop: Political Affairs: Bridging Markets and Politics - Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark
    Duration: 10 Oct 201311 Oct 2013
    Conference number: 4


    LocationCopenhagen Business School

    Cite this