Synopses & Reviews
As incisive as Eric Schlosser's bestselling Fast Food Nation,
as rigorous as Joseph E. Stiglitz's Globalization and Its Discontents,
and as scathing as Michael Moore's Stupid White Men,
Joel Bakan's new book is a brilliantly argued account of the corporation's pathological pursuit of profit and power. An eminent law professor and legal theorist, Bakan contends that the corporation is created by law to function much like a psychopathic personality whose destructive behavior, if left unchecked, leads to scandal and ruin.
In the most revolutionary assessment of the corporation as a legal and economic institution since Peter Drucker's early works, Bakan backs his premise with the following claims:
The corporation's legally defined mandate is to pursue relentlessly and without exception its own economic self-interest, regardless of the harmful consequences it might cause to others -- a concept endorsed by no less a luminary than the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman.
The corporation's unbridled self-interest victimizes individuals, society, and, when it goes awry, even shareholders and can cause corporations to self-destruct, as recent Wall Street scandals reveal.
While corporate social responsibility in some instances does much good, it is often merely a token gesture, serving to mask the corporation's true character.
Governments have abdicated much of their control over the corporation, despite its flawed character, by freeing it from legal constraints through deregulation and by granting it ever greater authority over society through privatization.
Despite the structural failings found in the corporation, Bakan believes change is possible and outlines a far-reaching program of concrete, pragmatic, and realistic reforms through legal regulation and democratic control.
Backed by extensive research, The Corporation draws on in-depth interviews with such wide-ranging figures as CEO Hank McKinnell of Pfizer, Nobel Prize-winner Milton Friedman, business guru Peter Drucker, and critic Noam Chomsky of MIT.
"This fine book was virtually begging to be written. With lucidity and verve, expert knowledge and incisive analysis, Joel Bakan unveils the history and the character of a devilish instrument that has been created and is nurtured by powerful modern states." Noam Chomsky
"Joel Bakan's The Corporation is one of those rare books that opens up a new world. Its message is compelling and more important now than ever." Robert A. G. Monks, deputy chairman of Hermes Focus Asset Management
"Joel Bakan has performed a valuable service to corporations everywhere by holding up a mirror for them to see their destructive selves as others see them. The clarion call for change is here for all who would listen." Ray C. Anderson, chairman and CEO of Interface, Inc.
A powerhouse of a concept contends that the corporation is created by law to function like a psychopathic personality whose destructive behavior, if unchecked, leads to scandal and ruin.
A heavily researched profile of the modern corporation theorizes that businesses are essentially pathological in nature and place profits above accountability, citing the flaws of such practices as deregulation and privatization while outlining a program of democratic control and social responsibili
About the Author
Joel Bakan is professor of law at the University of British Columbia. A Rhodes Scholar and former law clerk to Chief Justice Brian Dickson of the Supreme Court of Canada, he holds law degrees from Oxford, Harvard, and Dalhousie Universities. An internationally renowned legal authority, Bakan has written widely on law and its social and economic impact. He is the co-creator and writer of a documentary film and television miniseries called The Corporation, which is based on the book.
Table of Contents
ONE The Corporation's Rise to Dominance
TWO Business as Usual
THREE The Externalizing Machine
FOUR Democracy Ltd.
FIVE Corporations Unlimited
Review A Day
is the book on which the Canadian movie of the same name was based. The movie features the countercultural historian Howard Zinn, the bio-activist Jeremy Rifkin, the professor of linguistics and philosophy Noam Chomsky, and the belle of the anti-globalism ball, the soignée logophobe Naomi Klein. I couldn't survive the two-hour-and-twenty-five-minute movie, but I did soldier through the 228-page book." Alex Beam, The Atlantic Monthly
(read the entire Atlantic Monthly review