, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 357-379

National Networks of Corporate Power: An Irish Perspective

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Abstract

This paper maps the network of interlocking directorships formed by the boards of the top 50 financial and 200 non-financial companies in Ireland. The Irish network is compared with those in ten countries, based on the same sample size and selection criteria as used in this paper, using the methods and theory of Social Network Analysis (SNA). Fundamental to the paper is the idea that the network of interlocking directorates is in some way structured, and not the result of random processes.

Irish boards were found to have a relatively loosely connected network structure which is sparser and less dense than those of other countries. This is reflected in the relatively low percentage of multiple directors and the relatively fewer number of directorships per multiple director.

In general, indigenous Irish public companies tended to be central in the network, while a disproportionately large number of foreign and private companies were isolated on the periphery. However, a number of foreign-owned companies were central to the network -- in particular, those which started as indigenous Irish companies which were subsequently taken over.

When account is taken of the nature of the Irish economy and business, in comparison with that of the ten other countries, it is seen that the opportunities for company interlinking at board level in Ireland are relatively fewer. However, within these constraints, there is a thriving network of corporate power in Ireland.