The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power

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Free Press, 2004 - Business & Economics - 228 pages

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.

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User Review  - PoliticalMediaReview - LibraryThing

Brilliant debunking of anything you thought was ever good about corporations (which may not have been much). Bakan goes through the rise of the entity of the corporation, from its humble beginnings a ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - modelcitizen - LibraryThing

Joel Bakan calls for a rethinking of the corporate entity as we know it. An ambitious and way-out radical conclusion, but the premise and examples are well-illustrated and well-argued. Much more depth than the movie documentary based on the book. Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
TWO Business as Usual
28
THREE The Externalizing Machine
60
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

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.

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