The collapse of the USSR and its satellites recast business-government relations across the former
communist world. New markets were manufactured, state assets were privatized, and novel
business ventures were created. Even China, which retained its Communist political system, joined
the capitalist economic order with a vengeance at home and abroad. The end of the Cold War also
reshaped business-government relations in the West, as the threatening shadow of an alternative to
capitalism “out there” vanished. The neo-liberal resurgence, which had seen extensive deregulation
plus privatization of government monopolies in the 1980s, gathered momentum. Financial markets
were freed up and privatization extended to core government functions like prisons and the
military. Gated communities proliferated, spawning novel forms of private local government.
Business took on new roles in developing counties as well, filling gaps in public service provision
from weak states, and sometimes even reshaping political regimes themselves.
This course explores the business-government nexus in this evolving context. The goal is to rethink
business’s place in society, and its relations with government, in an era when alternatives to
capitalism are moribund. The motivating thought is that unless business is part of the solution to
major social and political challenges – ranging from sustaining democracy to feeding populations
and managing environmental threats – it will likely be part of the problem. We examine cases in
which new business roles have been more and less successful in order to chart the emerging
landscape and develop accounts of best practices and pitfalls to avoid. In addition to the U.S., we
will attend to developments in Russia, China (including China’s activity in Africa), India, Vietnam,
South Africa, Latin America including Cuba, and the Israel-Palestine conflict. This course is cross-listed with the Political Science department. It will be held at the School of Management and will follow a hybrid of the Yale College and SOM Academic Calendars.