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WP491: Tony Lawson's Theory of the Corporation: Towards a Social Ontology of Law

Simon Deakin

In his account of the corporation as a 'community', Tony Lawson advances a materialist theory of social reality to argue for the existence of emergent social structures based on collective practices and behaviours, distinguishing his position from John Searle's theory of social reality as consisting of declarative speech acts. Lawson's and Searle's accounts are examined for what they imply about the relationship between social structures and legal concepts. It is argued that legal concepts are themselves a feature of social reality and that a consequence of the law's recognition of the 'reality' of the corporation is to open up the activities of business firm to a distinct form of normative ordering.

WP490: The Role of Gravity Models in Estimating the Economic Impact of Brexit

Graham Gudgin, Ken Coutts, Neil Gibson and Jordan Buchanan

The predictions of the Treasury, OECD and IMF for the long-term impact of Brexit remain influential. They provide an important context for the Brexit negotiations and underpin the belief of Scottish and Irish nationalists that Brexit strengthens their case for independence or Irish unity. Because these predictions have received limited scrutiny they are examined in detail in this paper. The bases of the predictions are similar for each of the three organisations. In each case estimates are made of the impact of Brexit on trade and on foreign direct investment. This is followed by an estimate of the knock-on effect on productivity. The OECD and IMF also include an assessment of the impact of lower migration. The aggregate impact of these factors is then fed into a macro-economic model to obtain a forecast for GDP. Much of the final impact depends on the estimate for trade which, in each case, is assessed using a ‘gravity model’. Because gravity models are inaccessible to the general public, they are explained here in comprehensible terms. In addition the Treasury’s gravity model results are replicated and examined in detail. Our conclusion is that different versions of the model give a range of results and that most versions give a smaller trade impact than that reported by the Treasury, OECD or IMF. In particular, equations which estimate the average impact of EU membership on exports of goods tend to over-predict UK exports to the EU. This implies that the average impact of EU membership applies less to the UK than to the other EU member states. The further implication is that these official predictions of the impact of Brexit are overly pessimistic.

WP489: The CBR-LRI Dataset: Methods, Properties & Potential of Leximetric Coding of Labour Laws

Zoe Adams, Parisa Bastani, Louise Bishop and Simon Deakin

Leximetric data coding techniques aim to measure cross-national and inter-temporal variations in the content of legal rules, thereby facilitating statistical analysis of legal systems and their social and economic impacts. In this paper we explain how leximetric methods were used to create the CBR Labour Index (CBR-LRI), an index and related dataset of labour laws from around the world spanning the period from 1970 to 2013. Datasets of this kind must, we suggest, observe certain conventions of transparency and validity if they are to be usable in statistical analysis. The theoretical framework informing the construction of the dataset and the types of questions which it is are designed to answer should be made explicit. Then the choices involved in the selection of indicators, the definition of coding algorithms, and the aggregation and weighting of data to create composite measures, must be spelled out. In addition, primary legal sources should be referenced, and it should be clear how they were used to generate reported values. With these points in mind we provide an overview of the CBR-LRI dataset's main features and structure, discuss issues of weighting, and present some initial findings on what it reveals of global trends in labour regulation.

WP488: Time to Stop Playing Games with Industrial Policy? What Government & Business Might Learn from Team GB

Sue Konzelmann and Marc Fovargue-Davies

This paper investigates the degree to which the British elite sport policy model might inform a strategy for building international competiveness in UK industry. The methodology is qualitative, based on in-depth interviews with key figures in the British elite sport system, including UK Sport's CEO, Performance Directors of National Sport Governing Bodies whose athletes competed in London 2012 and Rio 2016 and Olympic athletes. The analysis also draws upon detailed case studies of sectors that are currently competing successfully in international markets – despite decades of ill-informed industrial policy, if not neglect. Areas standing out as key to the UK elite sport policy model's success include: an institutional structure to provide strategic leadership, identify talent and support the development of internationally competitive athletes and teams, whilst at the same time insulating them from interference by short-term political (and sporting) interests; an enabling competitive environment with access to a reliable source of finance; and an institutional system that encourages learning, innovation and responsiveness to opportunities and constraints. Taken together, these – if available to British businesses, clusters and sectors – would likely facilitate improvement in the UK's industrial performance. The significance of the elite sport case is that not only was it developed and successfully implemented in the British cultural, institutional and political context, in many respects elite sport can be considered a high performance industrial sector. It therefore offers a starting point for evolving strategy for building international competitiveness in comparable sectors of British industry.

WP487: Votes at Work in Britain: Shareholder Monopolisation and the 'Single Channel'

Ewan McGaughey

Why do shareholders monopolise voting rights in UK companies, and are trade unions the only way to get meaningful workplace representation? In 1967 a Labour Party policy document first coined the phrase that collective bargaining was – and should be – the 'single channel' of representation. Since then, it has been said the labour movement embraced an 'adversarial' rather than a 'constitutional' conception of corporations, neglecting legal rights to worker voice in enterprise governance. This article shows that matters were not so simple. It explains the substantial history of legal rights to vote in British workplaces, and the competition from the rival constitutional conception: employee share schemes. The UK has the oldest corporations – namely universities – which have consistently embedded worker participation rights in law. Britain has among the world's most sophisticated 'second channel' participation rights in pension board governance. Developing with collective bargaining, it had the world's first private corporations with legal participation rights. Although major plans in the 1920s for codetermination in rail and coal fell through, it maintained a 'third channel' of worker representatives on boards during the 20th century in numerous sectors, including ports, gas, post, steel, and buses. At different points every major political party had general proposals for votes at work. The narrative of the 'single channel' of workplace representation, and an 'adversarial' conception of the company contains some truth, but there has never been one size of regulation for all forms of enterprise.