Historical Social Research

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Ursula Hoffmann-Lange, Vertical and Horizontal Accountability of Global Elites: Some Theoretical Reflections and a Preliminary Research Agenda [Abstract]

Globalization has given rise to an ever-increasing number of global elites holding leadership positions in transnational institutions, corporations and NGOs. This raises questions regarding the structure and accountability of these elites. Are they just an abstract category of position-holders representing national or organizational interests in transnational decision-making or do they rather form a cohesive ruling group united by common interests, as some theoreticians of globalization have assumed? Elite theory has identified a number of relevant characteristics that can be used for assessing the nature of this nascent elite formation. These include primarily the prevailing patterns of elite recruitment with respect to the representation of societal diversity, the mechanisms of elite accountability and the existence of informal rules of conduct that enable the accommodation of conflicts of interest.