Throughout the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, stockbrokers, known as "jobbers," prowled the infamous coffee shops of London''s Exchange Alley, a maze of lanes between Lombard Street, Cornhill, and Birchin Lane, in search of credulous investors to whom they could sell shares in bogus companies. Such companies flourished briefly, nourished by speculation, and then quickly collapsed. Ninety-three of them traded between and By , only twenty were left. In the commissioners of trade for England reported that the corporate form had been "wholly perverted" by the sale of company stock "to ignorant men, drawn in by the reputation, falsely raised and artfully spread, concerning the thriving state of [the] stock.
Businessmen and politicians had been suspicious of the corporation from the time it first emerged in the late sixteenth century. Unlike the prevailing partnership form, in which relatively small groups of men, bonded together by personal loyalties and mutual trust, pooled their resources to set up businesses they ran as well as owned, the corporation separated ownership from management -- one group of people, directors and managers, ran the firm, while another group, shareholders, owned it.
That unique design was believed by many to be a recipe for corruption and scandal. Adam Smith warned in The Wealth of Nations that because managers could not be trusted to steward "other people''s money," "negligence and profusion" would inevitably result when businesses organized as corporations. Indeed, by the time he wrote those words in , the corporation had been banned in England for more than fifty years. In , the English Parliament, fed up with the epidemic of corporate high jinks plaguing Exchange Alley, had outlawed the corporation though with some exceptions.
It was the notorious collapse of the South Sea Company that had prompted it to act. Formed in to carry on exclusive trade, including trade in slaves, with the Spanish colonies of South America, the South Sea Company was a scam from the very start. Its directors, some of the leading lights of political society, knew little about South America, had only the scantiest connection to the continent apparently, one of them had a cousin who lived in Buenos Aires , and must have known that the King of Spain would refuse to grant them the necessary rights to trade in his South American colonies.
As one director conceded, "unless the Spaniards are to be divested of common sense Yet the directors of the South Sea Company promised potential investors "fabulous profits" and mountains of gold and silver in exchange for common British exports, such as Cheshire cheese, sealing wax, and pickles. Investors flocked to buy the company''s stock, which rose dramatically, by sixfold in one year, and then quickly plummeted as shareholders, realizing that the company was worthless, panicked and sold. In -- the year a major plague hit Europe, public anxiety about which "was heightened," according to one historian, "by a superstitious fear that it had been sent as a judgment on human materialism" -- the South Sea Company collapsed.
Fortunes were lost, lives were ruined, one of the company''s directors, John Blunt, was shot by an angry shareholder, mobs crowded Westminster, and the king hastened back to London from his country retreat to deal with the crisis. General Motors studied the best place to locate the gas tank to minimize the risk of a fire in the event of a crash. He alleges that this giant car company then calculated the cost of paying off victims and the cost of improving the design, and a comparison of the two figures demonstrated that it was cheaper for shareholders to pay off the families of the deceased in lawsuits than to protect human life by locating the gas tanks in a safer place.
Bakan also claims that General Electric repeatedly pays fines and finances clean-ups when caught defying environmental laws, rather than complying with environmental and public health requirements. The Corporation lists more than 40 claimed major legal breaches by General Electric just in the last decade of the 20th Century. This list of alleged infringements, indicating the seriousness of corporate moral deficit, includes weighty acts such as: Is this really what citizens would vote for, given a choice?
He also relates a lesser-known titbit of history: While Roosevelt prevailed, corporations have since gained power and influence they could only have dreamed of in his day. Democracy, Bakan reminds us, is government by the people for the people, not by corporations and for corporations. Yet corporate money now guarantees that slaughterhouses and mines function with very little regulation, and are largely regulated by people who were once prominent in these industries: Corporate power influences government, even government decisions that effect the health and welfare of all US citizens.
In The Corporation , Bakan paints a bleak picture of the far-reaching ill-effects of corporate power, including devastation of the environment. He views capitalist nations as run by short-sighted corporations acting in the financial interests of the few. But he also offers straight-forward solutions. We, as consumers, have choices. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — The Corporation by Joel Bakan. The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power 4. The inspiration for the film that won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for Best Documentary, The Corporation contends that the corporation is created by law to function much like a psychopathic personality, whose destructive behavior, if unchecked, leads to scandal and ruin.
Over the last years the corporation has risen from relative obscurity to become th The inspiration for the film that won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for Best Documentary, The Corporation contends that the corporation is created by law to function much like a psychopathic personality, whose destructive behavior, if unchecked, leads to scandal and ruin. Eminent Canadian law professor and legal theorist Joel Bakan contends that today's corporation is a pathological institution, a dangerous possessor of the great power it wields over people and societies. In this revolutionary assessment of the history, character, and globalization of the modern business corporation, Bakan backs his premise with the following observations: But Bakan believes change is possible and he outlines a far-reaching program of achievable reforms through legal regulation and democratic control.
Featuring in-depth interviews with such wide-ranging figures as Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman, business guru Peter Drucker, and cultural critic Noam Chomsky, The Corporation is an extraordinary work that will educate and enlighten students, CEOs, whistle-blowers, power brokers, pawns, pundits, and politicians alike. Paperback , pages. Published March 7th by Free Press first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Corporation , please sign up. Lists with This Book.
The fact that when Bakan and others note of how, in history, corporations have flirted with authoritarian regimes, is especially chilling especially the Plot to overthrow Roosevelt with a fascist dictator given today's political climate in America. I worry immensely for our species sometimes. This book should make you worry as well. View all 4 comments. Apr 02, Matt rated it it was amazing. It is no secret that nearly all human societies - including our present societies - favor the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else. The dominant institution for implementing this type of exploitation today is the corporation.
Corporations get politicians elected, take over our minds with advertising, dump pollution into our environment, and routinely commit crime upon crime. The basic Premise of this book is fairly simple: Corporations are not run by evil people, but are systematicall It is no secret that nearly all human societies - including our present societies - favor the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else. Corporations are not run by evil people, but are systematically designed in such a way that harming and exploiting people is a necessary component of their operation.
Corporations are created to maximize profit and minimize cost. Corporations are legally bound to put profit above all other concerns. These claims are backed up by an enormous amount of legal data.
The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power
The second point is that currently Businesses are insufficiently regulated and not remotely penalized severely enough for their crimes. This means that, given that their structure is to maximize profit, they will lie, cheat, fraud, and harm consumers and employees - as this is in the long run the most profitable course. What is the solution to this? A rethinking of and legal rewrite of the purpose and function of a corporation. Instead of merely a profit making machine, a corporation, the author argues, should be highly regulated, and subject to severe penalties when it violates the law.
Furthermore, social responsibility must be legally written into the charter of a corporation and the common good, not merely profit, must be part of their tasks as a social institution. Only by so re-creating the corporation and its structures can we remove the horrible harms corporations do and make them a force for good, rather than a force for harm and destruction.
As we celebrate the workers of the world this May Day, let us no only honor their labor and speak out for their rights; let us also come to understand the systemic problem of the corporate structure which keeps them exploited. If we are to have true rights for working people, then we must restructure the corporate machine into something very differe View all 15 comments.
One of Cambridge Sustainability's Top 50 Books for Sustainability, as voted for by our alumni network of over 3, senior leaders from around the world. To find out more, click here. The Corporation begins by reminding us that, originally, corporations meaning large Anglo-American publicly traded businesses were established with the explicit purpose of serving the public good enshrined in a charter , with liable shareholders.
Today, however, corporations have a legal obligation to pursue prof One of Cambridge Sustainability's Top 50 Books for Sustainability, as voted for by our alumni network of over 3, senior leaders from around the world. Today, however, corporations have a legal obligation to pursue profits above all else, which becomes a pathological i. Bakan explains that the nature of the corporation changed when the US Supreme Court ruled that a corporation should have the same rights as individuals, thus making it a legal person. However, it is a 'person' with no moral conscience and an exclusive focus on the benefits of shareholders.
This results in a pattern of social costs imposed by bsuiness in exchange for private gains for its executives and owners. Nov 29, Rebecca McNutt rated it it was amazing Shelves: A striking and unhinging social commentary on the ruthless "person" legally that is the modern-day corporation, this book looks at the corruption behind those big bright names we've come to know and trust, as well as companies we've come to fear, like Monsanto.
Like the haunting film of the same name, The Corporation is sure to make both consumers and capitalists alike more aware of the world around them. View all 3 comments. Although this book and corresponding documentary was released back in , it obviously is still massively relevant, given the credit crunch and banking collapses of Bear Sterns, Lehman Bros and RBS last year, caused by putting corporate profit before all else.
A corporation has only one goal — to make a profit for its shareholders. Corporations using shareholders money for any other reason is actually against the law. Companies who apparently are doing business for the benefit of others the Although this book and corresponding documentary was released back in , it obviously is still massively relevant, given the credit crunch and banking collapses of Bear Sterns, Lehman Bros and RBS last year, caused by putting corporate profit before all else.
Companies who apparently are doing business for the benefit of others the 3rd world, the environment are only doing so because it makes the company a profit. Legally, a corporation is treated as an individual, which came about when trying to protect the shareholders from liability. Corporations are massively under-regulated, and the beginnings of corporations running public utilities such as water, gas, electricity is a frightening turn to take given how little control governments have over them.
Sep 15, Aileen rated it it was amazing. This book is one of my favorites. I've owned for it only a month, and yet it is notationed, and dog-earred and full of smudge prints from where I pointed to particular paragraphs and said, "Yes, just like that. Some of my favorite phrases were: And it reads quickly. I couldn't recommend it more. Aug 08, J. This is the companion book to the excellent documentary called, unsurprisingly, "The Corporation".
The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power - Joel Bakan - Google Книги
The documentary, to be honest is more fun and has a more attuned sense of humor, which is refreshing. The book tends to be a little drier and feels rushed at times as if Bakan is trying to get the point across as quickly as possible, and with as little depth as possible. Let's face it, if you're reading this book in the first place, much of what is in it will seem familiar or even re This is the companion book to the excellent documentary called, unsurprisingly, "The Corporation".
Let's face it, if you're reading this book in the first place, much of what is in it will seem familiar or even redundant. It's more of a basic outline of how shitty corporations are for people who might still not quite understand that. It should be pointed up. People sitting on the fence.
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A critical examination of the nature of the modern corporation 2 February I guess I discovered this book after watching the documentary movie of the same name, though I suspect that the book was based upon the movie normally such movies tend to spawn books which explore the topics that the movie explores in greater detail. The corporation itself is a dichotomy, namely because despite what is wrong with these entities Bakan proves that they have all of the characteristics of a psychopath , A critical examination of the nature of the modern corporation 2 February I guess I discovered this book after watching the documentary movie of the same name, though I suspect that the book was based upon the movie normally such movies tend to spawn books which explore the topics that the movie explores in greater detail.
The corporation itself is a dichotomy, namely because despite what is wrong with these entities Bakan proves that they have all of the characteristics of a psychopath , these entities are also responsible for our current lifestyle. To be honest, to remove the economic institutions we have today and return to the era of the cottage industry and the local store owner will drive up prices and undermine our luxurious lifestyles which will also be the result of doing nothing. That does not necessarily mean that it is good for us to live the luxurious lifestyles that we are living in the west, particularly since our lifestyles as all in history who live such extravagant lives are supported by slavery.
While they may not be slaves in the literal sense, they are slaves in the economic sense, living on less than two dollars a day and working extra-ordinary hours in horrendous conditions. Despite the fact that many of the senior executives of these corporations as well as the shareholders, which include any of us who have a pension fund pretend that they don't know how these goods are being made, or the conditions that the workers are working in, in reality as is demonstrated in The Big One where Michael Moore asks Phillip Knight of Nike to go with him to Indonesia to see the conditions of the factories that the shoes are produced in; an invitation which Phillip Knight politely declines we all wish to remain wilfully blind to the reality of what is going on namely because we don't actually want to give anything up, and the more that we have, the less we want to give up.
Granted, while I may not own a car, and resist the temptation to buy things that I do not need, I still live a rather luxurious life, and the fact that I can jump on a plane and fly to Europe and back, is a testament to that. There are people that I work with that to them such an adventure is little more than a pipe dream, and I am not even earning big bucks.
This is because I have no dependants and little debt, I have a much higher disposable income than many other people that I work with, even those who hold higher positions than I do. There are a few things that come out of this book or I should say the movie, because that is what I am writing from — though I have read the book that I wish to explore, and one of them is the corporation as the externalising machine. Externalisation is the art of making something somebody else's problem, despite the fact that you are the cause of that problem.
For example, when a corporation dumps all of its toxic waste into the river, and lets the government and the community deal with it, then it is externalising waste management. When it is too expensive to actually deal with the waste properly, and the laws that prevent the corporation from dumping the wast are weak, or even non-existent, then the most cost effective way to deal with waste is to externalise it that is dump it into the river and make it somebody else's problem.
Labour is another thing that is externalised, and one way to do that is to contract out certain areas so that the corporation can cut back on labour costs and not have to feel responsible for how products are used. In fact, where in the past a corporation was defined by what it made and in turn sold, this is pretty much disappearing as we speak.
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Nike do not make shoes, they contract that out to some sweatshop in Indonesia which is not even owned by them. Instead, they buy the shoes, and then sell the shoes, either direct to the consumer or through an intermediary. As such Nike is no longer a manufacturer of shoes, they are simply a brand that makes money by being a middle man. However, it is not even that by contracting labour to the sweatshops that the product becomes cheaper. The price of the product actually stays the same, it is just the profit that the corporation makes increases and even then there is no guarantee that the shareholders will ever see any of that profit.
Instead they will keep the profits, which no doubt will result in an increased share price, and even then the shareholder must know when to sell which is nigh impossible to maximise their investment. What we need is not to get rid of the corporations, because at heart we need them to be able to maintain our extravagant lifestyles. However, what we need is a paradigm shift, within ourselves and within our society. We have to begin to learn to be content with less.
The Socialists are right when they say that even if we live in a country like Australia, we must still remain vigilant less the freedoms and the laws that we have here are undermined by corporate greed. However, how many of us live in houses with electricity, and how many of us watch television? Can we go without our laptops or our mobile devices? It is because we desire these things that the corporations remain in control. Granted these devices make our lives easier, but at what cost? Even if climate change is not a man made phenomena, the pollution that is spewed into the air, and the toxins that are pumped into our water supply, are having a significant impact upon the world in which we live, and to be honest with you, it is unsustainable.
We may wonder if there has ever been a similar period in history like our own, and my answer is that on one hand there hasn't been one, but in another there has. The period I point to is that of the mid to later Roman Empire, where people were living such luxurious lives that they blinded themselves to the ecological destruction that they were causing. It is not simply that either, because inflation was running rampant, and while the rich were getting richer, the basic necessities of life were unreachable by the masses.
Rome ended up collapsing, and with it creating a dark age of epic proportions, and that is something that we are even now also looking at. May 01, C. Scott rated it it was amazing. Corporations have psychopathic personalities. That part was hilarious and insightful at the same time. This is a brisk read and absolutely essential for understanding the motivations and weaknesses of the world's most powerful institution: Watched the documentary years ago during college, but never got around to reading the book.
The book was a bit drier and less emotionally tugging than the documentary; it also read like a college research paper which could be good or bad depending on the reader. What I really liked about it was that he offered practical solutions Watched the documentary years ago during college, but never got around to reading the book. What I really liked about it was that he offered practical solutions that could check corporate power and get corporations back on the right path i. I can see why. While this is true, Bakan focuses too much on trying to convince the reader that this problem exists, rather than explaining the social implications and providing an alternative model for corporations.
I personally believe capitalism is the lesser of two evils, but ONLY because democracy calls for power from the people to a certain extent , and provides more avenues for people to earn their wealth compared to communism. However, both ultimately fail because people are corrupt.
Still, there are so many important questions raised and answered in this book! Highly recommended along with the documentary. Jul 04, Jill Furedy rated it really liked it Shelves: I'm a few years late finding this book, but some of my other reading lead me to it, as well as a general frustration after working for national retailers for years. I questioned why retail corporations are so disconnected from their employees and customers and how the structures outside the store level operate and make decisions.
As a side note, the TV show Undercover Boss also shows the complete surprise most CEO's face when working the front lines of their businesses This book doesn't correspond directly with my retail related concerns as corporations entail a broad range of businesses, but I still marked a dozen sections to reread, and read lots of portions that enraged and frustrated me even more than I expected. The tentacles of corporations are so far reaching, I'm not sure how the country goes about extracting itself from the death grip we've gotten ourselves wrapped up in.
Not that I believe corporations have to be evil!
THE CORPORATION: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power
But I do believe Bakan is correct in his presentation of how unlikely philanthropy, loyalty to country, to employees, to customers or a pursuit of quality are to be adapted into the current business models. We live in a culture that believes in "more" rather than "enough", so it's to be expected So did we pick up our bad habits of overspending, accepting debt, taking risks and gambles in finances, looking only at the bottom line, etc from businesses and governments or did they get it from us?
They don't really cover the sociological issues that popped into my head, in this book.