The corporate capture of the State and how to curb the instrumentalization of advanced capitalism

The corporate capture of the State and how to curb the instrumentalization of advanced capitalism


From July 2023 to January 2024, Empower conducted dozens of interviews and reviewed hundreds of documents from the Global South to identify opportunities, strategies, and innovations about how to address the phenomenon of the corporate capture of the State, which is a fundamental pillar of corporate power and an anti-democratic force that emerged from advanced capitalism and neoliberalism. We emphasize not only its manifestations but also how best to address the corporate capture of the energy transition.

Clearly, the challenges to study and arrive at solutions to counteract corporate capture are enormous. That is why we believe it’s essential that governments, policymakers, businesses, and civil society actively engage to ensure that the impacts of the corporate capture of the State on people and planet are stopped and that we can build a more inclusive economy.

In the Global South in particular, the manifestations of corporate power are scandalous, both as threats to national sovereignty and for their complicity with authoritarian regimes. Some examples can be found in Brazil, where agribusiness and mining interests have aggravated deforestation and displaced indigenous communities; in South Africa, where State-owned enterprises accused of corruption continue to prosper while people there suffer from electricity and housing shortages; and in Mexico, where the company Grupo Mexico remains in impunity following the spill of 40 million liters of toxic sludge into the Bacanuchi and Sonora rivers.

The context in which we find ourselves begs the following questions: What is the role of civil society in the face of increasing corporate power? What is the role of public officials and policymakers, if not the State itself? And how can we ensure greater obligations so that businesses respect human rights?

As a result of our corporate capture research, we’ve created a website and published two reports with our findings, including a comprehensive reference document with all of the information obtained from our interviews and literature review. Readers interested in a specific topic can refer to this background document for more information or navigate using the website.

Our goal has been to identify ideas that can be adapted, replicated, and scaled to fight corporate capture and promote a new economic paradigm. We have also sought to bring together in one place, in both English and Spanish, all of the information collected through our research so that other researchers have a better starting point as they delve deeper into corporate capture.

We developed a website and published two reports defining how we understand the corporate capture of the State in order to identify both the associated challenges and gaps as well as the opportunities, strategies, and innovations to address it and counteract its effects, especially in the Global South and in the energy transition where it’s most damaging.