Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Carol Gould

Committee Members

Linda Alcoff

Charles Mills

Subject Categories

Ethics and Political Philosophy


workplace democracy


In this essay, I argue that the power structures in both states and firms should be the same—for example, if state authorities are chosen via a democratic process, the same should hold for authorities in firms. This is because the source of power is the same in both realms, namely, economic and political power derives from its ability to facilitate cooperation. Hence, there is no plausible reason to defend a different power structure for states and firms. To argue this, I start in Chapter 1 by arguing against the most common theory of state power, which is that it derives from the state’s monopoly on violent force. In Chapter 2, I explain R. H. Coase’s theory of corporations, which will serve as partial inspiration for my own theory of political and economic power. Then I describe coordination games and focal points, key concepts that elucidate how people cooperate, in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 contains my main argument that political and economic power arise from the same source, the need for people to cooperate and the ability of power to facilitate this cooperation. I consider four attempts to distinguish states and firms in Chapter 5, and then conclude with some thoughts about the applications of my argument.