Economic Liberties & Balanced Economy Project Release “Stakeholder Capitalism’s Next Frontier: Pro- or Anti-Monopoly?”

April 27, 2022 Press Release

Washington, D.C. — The American Economic Liberties Project and the Balanced Economy Project today jointly released “Stakeholder Capitalism’s Next Frontier: Pro- or Anti-Monopoly?”. Authored by Denise Hearn and Michelle Meagher, the paper provides a detailed examination of the growing stakeholder capitalism movement and argues that its failure to embrace anti-monopoly principles is undermining its own objectives.

“While stakeholder capitalism has been wildly successful in front-lining its rhetoric of a softer capitalism, it has ignored historic levels of corporate and financial concentration which leave stakeholders like workers, consumers, and independent businesses largely at the mercy of monopolists,” said Denise Hearn, Senior Fellow at the American Economic Liberties Project. “The anti-monopoly movement shows us that markets must be guarded and governed by democratically determined rules, enforceable by the state, if they are to operate on fair, competitive, and balanced terms among stakeholders.”

“As Mehrsa Baradaran has said, ‘We don’t want just benevolent billionaires and nicer, softer, more woke monopolies. We want an economic structure that allows for more mobility, and we don’t have that,’” Hearn added.

“Acknowledging corporate power would aid proponents of stakeholder capitalism, because it aligns with people’s everyday experience of disempowerment in monopolized capitalism,” said Michelle Meagher, co-founder of the Balanced Economy Project. “Whether it is the inflated prices of consumer goods and services, supply chain shortages, the shrinking power of workers to negotiate better pay or working conditions, the difficulty an entrepreneur faces growing their business, or mega-firms suppressing climate change research for decades — all these issues can be explained, in large part, by dominant firms with too much power setting market rules, acting as gatekeepers, and misusing the privilege of incorporation.”

Stakeholder capitalism, popularized by the World Economic Forum and theoretically embraced by the Business Roundtable, seeks to create long-term value by attending to the interests of all corporate stakeholders rather than shareholders alone. Its proponents, which range from social activists to corporate titans, contend that profit and the protection of people and planet are inherently compatible. But as Hearn and Meagher explain, not all paths to profit are compatible with the public good, and big firms, capable of investing vast resources toward social good, are also capable of inflicting substantial harms.

Indeed, as “Stakeholder Capitalism’s Next Frontier” details, there is an inherent link between the perpetual drive for scale and dominance, and the recurring market abuses of the largest corporations. While big, monopolistic firms may appear capable of addressing key social issues, the reality is that they will not. Concentrated economic power is at the root of a broad range of social ills and injustices, resulting in higher prices for consumers, lower wages, less business dynamism and lower startup rates, less innovation, lower growth, rising inequality, the hollowing out of rural areas and regional inequality, fragile supply chains, environmental damage, political capture, risks to national security, and the subversion of democracy (among others).

Stakeholder capitalists, Hearn and Meagher argue, must wrestle with these facts. And they must answer key questions about concentrations of economic power, embracing an antimonopoly agenda, and reclaiming and reasserting the foundational tenets of a democratic economy: that corporations are fundamentally embedded within society, that the corporation is a public creation and should be publicly accountable, and that markets are public creations and structured by politically determined rules.

Read “Stakeholder Capitalism’s Next Frontier: Pro- or Anti-monopoly?“ here.

Learn more about Economic Liberties here and the Balanced Economy Project here.



The American Economic Liberties Project works to ensure America’s system of commerce is structured to advance, rather than undermine, economic liberty, fair commerce, and a secure, inclusive democracy. Economic Liberties believes true economic liberty means entrepreneurs and businesses large and small succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work; commerce empowers consumers, workers, farmers, and engineers instead of subjecting them to discrimination and abuse from financiers and monopolists; foreign trade arrangements support domestic security and democracy; and wealth is broadly distributed to support equitable political power.

The Balanced Economy Project is a new anti-monopoly organization dedicated to tackling excessive concentrations of corporate power in countries outside the United States. We bring together experts on competition policy and activists challenging corporate power to create a hub of expertise, kickstarting a global anti-monopoly movement.