The pharmaceutical and the agro-chemical sectors have been plagued with scandals about corporations falsifying science and influencing professionals and policymakers.

“These scandals are not simply anecdotes, but are symptoms of systematic efforts and strategies routinely deployed to benefit commercial interests,” says Marc-André Gagnon.

Marc-Andre Gagnon, School of Public Policy and Administration

Gagnon, an associate professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration, has received a 5-year $298,138 SSHRC Insight grant for the project, “Ghost-Management in the Pharmaceutical and Agricultural Chemical Sectors: Dynamics and Implications for Canadian Political Economy.”

“Building on a political economy tradition of analyzing the nature of corporate power, it is possible to show that large corporations in specific sectors often spend more resources influencing social structures than in production or innovation,” he says. “We use ‘ghost-management’ to describe the systematic behind-the-scenes efforts and strategies deployed by corporations to shape knowledge, ideas and narratives about specific products.”

Investigative journalists Serena Tinari, Catherine Riva and Paul Thacker, along with up to 10 graduate students, will collaborate with Gagnon to allow for systematically investigating current ghost-management strategies.

The project will analyze how firms spend vast resources to produce ignorance or uncertainty through the dissemination of false, misleading or contradictory information.

“We need to re-think the nature and dynamics of contemporary capitalism,” says Gagnon. “The research will advance the institutionalist theory of market power in political economy and economic sociology and facilitate further journalistic and academic investigations in both political economy and sociology of science.

“The research will also benefit from an additional $20,000 from the SSHRC Initiative for Digital Citizen Research to generate a public and policy framework to better reveal and, potentially, deter (through more effective policy and regulations) the problematic practices of disinformation, fake news, and unethical corporate behavior.”

Friday, June 18, 2021 in , ,
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