The Use of Power Blocs of Integrated Corporate Directorships to Articulate a Power Structure: Case Study and Research Recommendations

By Hayden, F. Gregory; Wood, Kellee R. et al. | Journal of Economic Issues, September 2002 | Go to article overview

The Use of Power Blocs of Integrated Corporate Directorships to Articulate a Power Structure: Case Study and Research Recommendations


Hayden, F. Gregory, Wood, Kellee R., Kaya, Asuman, Journal of Economic Issues


The purpose here is the explanation of five related concerns. First, we explain a new method to analyze and measure the network of interlocks among the directors of different corporations. Second, we use the method articulated is used to analyze and describe the network that forms the corporate power structure in which the Central Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact (CIC) is enmeshed. We have been greatly surprised by the findings because the literature surveyed concerning corporate director overlaps does not contain any examples of such a dense and extensive network of corporate connections as exist in the CIC. Third, from the empirical base generated for the CIC, we select the most dominant corporations. Fourth, we provide a literature review that is related to the new method utilized. As scientists emphasize, context is imperative for defining what is to be considered and interpreted. Thus, in order to make the literature review more meaningful, it is necessary to gain an understanding of the ne w methodology and its application before the literature review is presented. A new research and measurement context needs to be demonstrated before we can know what past research base is relevant. Since it is important both to relate past research to the methods used here and to suggest future research, the review is presented after the CIC empirical base is derived and before the presentation of the fifth concern, which is an explanation of suggested future research.

The CIC is an outgrowth of 1980 legislation approved by the federal government for the establishment of compacts among states for the management of low-level radioactive waste. Absent much progress in that direction, Congress amended the legislation in 1985 with incentives and requirements for states.(1) The CIC is a five-state compact formed by Arkansas, Nebraska, Kansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. Technically, it is governed by a five-person commission, with one representative from each state. In the face of drastically decreased waste volumes and radioactivity levels, excess disposal capacity nationwide, a developer in financial trouble, cost overruns, exorbitant costs to develop new facilities, and the rejection of its license application to build a facility in Nebraska, the CIC continues the expensive process of pursuing a disposal sire. Why? As stated above, to answer that question is one of the reasons for the application of the new method to the CIC.

Within the five-state region of the CIC, the major nuclear generators are Entergy Corporation, Entergy Louisiana, Entergy Arkansas, Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation, Gulf States Utilities Co., Nebraska Public Power District (government owned), and Omaha Public Power District (government owned). The major generators have had significant influence on the CIC and have provided most of the funding for the CIC to pay the developer, American Ecology Corporation, and the major subcontractor, Bechtel National, Inc. The generators follow the leadership of Entergy Corp., and Entergy's liaison person to the CIC Commission serves on the CIC's most important policy committee. In short, Entergy has had the power to guide the policies of a Commission that represents five states because Entergy is a dominant corporation in a very powerful corporate structure that serves as a sub government for the several states.

Entergy's web of influence is derived from overlapping corporate decision structures--decision structures for determining what happens with regard to economic, social, and technological systems within the region. The collaborative decision making of oligopolistic corporations that have interlocked their boards of directors has evolved to be one of the most powerful decision-making institutions in Western society. In the twelfth century, the most powerful economic institution was the medieval manor, in the nineteenth century it was the family (where most economic ownership and business decisions were made), and today the most powerful social and economic institution is the network made up of translocked corporate organizations. …

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