Companies and their Economic Power

The size and scope of global corporations in the 21st century is enormous.  Global corporations have vast reach and economic power. For example, the Coca Cola Company sells it branded products in over 200 countries and Procter & Gamble estimates that 4 billion of the world’s 7 billion people buy P&G brands in 180 countries every year.   A recent Georgetown University study showed that if one were to equate the annual revenues of the largest global corporations with the size of the world’s leading economies, many firms would rank among the top economic powers.  Wal-Mart Stores, with 2010 revenues of approximately $422 billion would rank as the 23rd largest economy in the world, ahead of countries like Norway and Venezuela.  Royal Dutch Shell would rank 26th ahead of Austria, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, and South Africa.  Exxon Mobil would rank 31st ahead of Iran, Thailand, and Denmark.  BP would rank 35th ahead of Greece.  This analysis also revealed that 45 companies would be listed among the top 100 economies.

Of course, the balance of power within a national territory tends to come out on side of the government – in a neck on neck contest, national sovereignty typically wins. This is mainly the case when it comes to the ‘big’ picture – whether or not a country should recognize Cuba or whether certain merchandise should be subject to embargoes or sanctions. The small issues, such as, should our products be adapted to a new market abroad and at what price, tend to be overwhelmingly decided by corporations. Therefore, at this macro level, companies exert major power.

Special thanks to Charles Skuba.

Sources:

World Bank,Gross Domestic Product 2010,  http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DATASTATISTICS/Resources/GDP.pdf, and Fortune Global 500 2011, http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/global500/2011/full_list/, accessed January 27, 2012, Analysis by Charles J. Skuba and Joao Almeida, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, January 2012

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