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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! 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. Though the book does discuss the nature of a corporation as an individual, and a potentially psychopathic one. The appeal of buying from corporations rather than locals and saving that couple extra bucks is compounded by corporations allowing us to distance ourselves from the bad stuff I for one wouldn't buy some food products if faced with the working conditions someone else is dealing with to provide me that luxury.

I am again looking at the retail side of it It's hard to even wrap my brain around what the financial institutions are doing. And for the people working these places, that are doing 'bad things' or creating bad results as corollaries to their goals, it's easy to say 'just doing what I'm told, it's just my job' all the way up and down the chain Employees can blame the bosses, bosses blame boards or stockholders, stockholders blame the customers who support the company with their purchases, customers blame the employees. Every gets to think of themselves as the good guy and point the finger elsewhere.

Harder to do that if you are buying from Joe down the street who runs his own business. Then you are directly supporting his practices and products. Which is why the ideas presented at the end of the book are great in the abstract, but it's the reality of changing anything that's hard to envision. And of course, having been out for a while, the book may have made a splash at it's release, but clearly didn't change much. For most readers, it's preaching to the choir. So it's a good read to respark your outrage or to pass along to those with similar beliefs, but it's going to be a hard sell to those who believe in the less regulation, ' it will all work out if you leave it alone', type of theories.

I would recommend it and in fact encourage people to read it to help see a bigger picture of our everyday consumerism, where it's taken us so far, and whether or not we're still up for this ride. Jan 17, Mark Valentine rated it really liked it. Here's what I gained from reading this book: The existence of the corporation is to secure and increase profits. After the Supreme Court in granted the same rights and protections that were meant for slaves rebounding from the Civil War as established in the 14th Amendment to corporations, these corporations have had a special status protected within our legal system.

Further, Here's what I gained from reading this book: Further, anyone who hints that the corporation might have an ounce of social responsibility does not know that the corporation answers to the shareholders who want a return on their investment. Ford in secured that it was the legal obligation for the workers and management in a corporation to work for the shareholders only. In fact, they are proud of the fact that others would and should pay for their waste, greed, pollution, and harmful by-products.

This is what I gained from reading this short book. I recommend it as an antidote for anyone fed up with consumerism, media, and conspicuous consumption.


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It's a well studied phenomenon that we tend to seek out material that re-affirms our existing beliefs. For that reason, I have to be somewhat skeptical about how I approach the Corporation. It's possible that I am too willing to accept some data here or an opinion there without bringing the skepticism that is really necessary in a non-fiction work. That being said, the framework of the Corporation in the psychopathic model is illuminating.

It makes me wonder how many This American Life and Planet It's a well studied phenomenon that we tend to seek out material that re-affirms our existing beliefs. It makes me wonder how many This American Life and Planet Money spots that similarly frame the corporate breakdowns of the "noughts" were inspired by this piece. I found myself, while reading, wishing that the book had been written four, five years later, so that The Great Recession could further contribute to the argument that corporations cannot be the primary developmental institutions of a nation.

The book essentially asks for a New New Deal, but what we got instead are bailouts with no social responsibility attached. If I had read this book five years ago, I would be giving it five stars for opening my eyes. Today, I'm giving it five stars because it is a succinct summary of what I know and believe about the institution of corporation, and because it is presented and backed up fantastically.

Years before the Occupy movement would clumsily make a demand here or there, Joel Bakan presents them in The Corporation. I really recommend reading as a warning as to the direction lassez-faire capitalism represents. Though the suggestions in the book may not take every contingency into account, they could be a real first step, if people only realize that short term pain of change will be a long term gain. Mar 05, Judah rated it it was amazing Shelves: An effective introductory text for anyone interested in the rise of [hyper]capitalism. Bakan offers a convincing argument that, because the corporation's singular objective is to maximize profit at all costs, it is inherently exploitative.

Given that corporations enjoy legal classification as people, one might call their pursuit of profit-at-all-costs psychopathic. To illustrate this point, Bakan provides numerous examples most notably Enron, as well as a long list of General Electric's misdeed An effective introductory text for anyone interested in the rise of [hyper]capitalism. To illustrate this point, Bakan provides numerous examples most notably Enron, as well as a long list of General Electric's misdeeds of companies that, when left to their own devices, commit gross human rights violations and- through legislative loopholes, aggressive lobbying and flat-out bribery- escape liability.

He offers an example of a family injured in a car explosion because of a faulty fuel tank design from General Motors: Definitely worth the read. Oct 15, Scott Goddard rated it liked it. The book, on the whole, is worth reading. It goes into considerable depth about the inherent problems of the ubiquitous corporation. There is certainly no shortage of examples, either. Unfortunately, however, the book, in large part, suffered from a superficiality on an academic level. There was a severe and noticeable lack of theory, and, as the title suggests but is now misleading in hindsight , no mention of the psychological theory behind the corporation.

I don't mean to denigrate the book The book, on the whole, is worth reading. I don't mean to denigrate the book though, as I enjoyed it overall. There is an obvious case of bias too; the author does not, as far as I discerned, mention or allude to opposing theories or arguments in favour of the corporation. The fact the profit motive has brought about pivotal innovation? How competition, too, brings about innovation? Oct 12, Bri rated it really liked it Shelves: Reading this opens the minds of consumers and the general public. I find it extremely tragic how this world has come to such corruption and cruelty.

Corporations control the world we know, and they have but one purpose, to achieve profit for the stock holders. There is alot more to this story I wish I could put into simple words but for now it will have to suffice that I recomend everyone who wants to be aware of the world we live in reads this book. Sep 04, Gina rated it it was amazing. I saw the movie for The Corporation back in It was the first time I had ever heard of Monsanto, and while I was not completely politically unaware at the time, the movie caused kind of a jump forward in awareness.

I had always meant to read the associated book; it just took me a while.

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Having done so, I have to say that it is still well-written, still timely, and still pretty horrifying. I wish there were better answers, but we have often shown that we are not willing to put people before I saw the movie for The Corporation back in I wish there were better answers, but we have often shown that we are not willing to put people before profits, and that is what a lot of it comes down to. I still recommend the book for some valuable historical information, and also for the help it gives in cutting through the crap of what various companies might say about corporate responsibility and things like that.

Jan 10, Marc Maurer rated it it was ok. This is a book that would have made a good article. I knew what to expect from the very beginning: I'm not an unsympathetic audience for this line of thinking: I'm a strong believer that your sympathy should lie with people before organizations. Corporations don't really deserve our sympathy, etc.

There is something simple and stark about a corporation though: That's something that you can't say about most things: A corporation's motives are pure and clean: This book's putative page count is , but only of that is text. After that comes the end notes, the bibliography, the acknowledgements, and the index. The whole thing is organized like a college paper, and it reads like one too. I feel like this shows a fair amount of laziness on the author's part, and a lack of synthetic thinking. Apart from an acknowledgement early on regarding the limited liability and capital-leverage features of a corporation viewed as a negative , there is no recognition that the corporate form has unleashed some pretty amazing results on the world.

These things didn't just fall from the sky; in many cases there are government research, infrastructure, and security to thank for the basics. But the corporate structure can refine raw intellectual ingredients into finished, commercially viable products and then drive the cost lower and lower. So enough about how awesome corporations are--back to the book.

That is fine, but it's only the tip of the iceberg. The follow-through to a bigger picture and better world is sorely lacking. How can we keep better eyes on the corporations that impact our society? Are there resources, or newsletters, or reports? The book doesn't provide any tools about how to do our own homework. How can we make the world different? There are nine suggestions in the last chapter, but I personally don't believe that any of them are practical at an individual level. For example, "Government regulation should be reconceived, and relegitimated, as the principal means for bringing corporations under democratic control and ensuring that they respect the interests of citizens, communities, and the environment.

The book doesn't specifically state this, but the thought process is clear: I don't believe this at all, at least for what society tolerates. I'm more of a pendulum swinger: I believe this is what it will take for the position of corporations to change in our society: Even after the Great Recession, we aren't there yet.

Finally, something that is not really a complaint, but more an observation: Enron still looms large in this book's psyche. The author returns to it again and again as an example of a corporation run amok. It almost seems quaint, considering what happened in , to be so indignant about what happened earlier in the decade. Overall, there are some good warnings in the book, especially about corporations' influence over children, both at school and in the larger world. The overall tenor of the book, though, is unlikely to win many converts or to result in any measurable change in the world.

As a result, I would deem this book a failure in its goals of raising awareness and advocating for change. May 13, Ian O'Sullivan rated it it was amazing. This book is a short but deep read.

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I had to pause at several moments to reflect on the state of our corporate world and its control over our government and our lives. This book gets to the heart of the matter on how corporations have taken over the modern world, right down to the legal wording that has allowed it to do so. When you see what has been added and taken away from the law in order to further corporate power and control, you truly see the writing of the devil. Subtly over time, the wo This book is a short but deep read. Subtly over time, the wording was changed, regulations were removed, and laws were revised to allow the worst self-seeking aspects of corporations to thrive.

The goal is profit, over everything and everyone else. Mar 16, Eric Li rated it really liked it. Basic premise of the book is to say that if corporations were real people as the courts look at them as , then they are terrible pathological human beings with no morals and we need to do something about it. Bakan starts off with a brief history of corporations, essentially coming from technological advances leading to large-scale enterprises that simple partnerships weren't able to finance.

And corporations really took off when limited liability was entrenched, thus freeing shareholders of any Basic premise of the book is to say that if corporations were real people as the courts look at them as , then they are terrible pathological human beings with no morals and we need to do something about it. And corporations really took off when limited liability was entrenched, thus freeing shareholders of any personal liability of any actions of the corporation. Next he argues that corporations cannot, by law, do any genuine good because they are mandated to make as much profit as possible for their shareholders.

All this profit making has consequences on innocent bystanders, known as externalities. Effects of a transaction on a third party which has not consented to or played a role in the transaction. Corporations view regulations and laws as an economic cost in making profit, not actually an inhibitory factor. Next Bakan describes the relationships between politics and corporations and how regulations are being lifted by the government and influence that corporations hold through donations and lobbyists.

Bakan examines the Enron situation and lays out how their influence of government regulations directly lead to their ability to manipulate energy prices. Bakan also looks at how corporations are further pushing into more areas traditionally maintained by the government such as schools and public spaces and how it is detrimental to society, mostly focusing on advertisement to children. The last chapter ends with some solutions to the problem. Corporations were initially created to further the public and national interests. Corporations were created by the state and cannot exist without the state, thus Bakan calls forth citizens to improve the government regulatory system, strengthen unions, weaken the partnership between government and corporations and challenging international neoliberalism.

Overall I enjoyed this book, it was quite an easy read heavy on anecdotes and a little light on data. A good primer given how much anti-corporation sentiment there is in the US today. Apr 01, Maddy rated it really liked it Shelves: I've seen the movie based on this book so not too many surprises. Sort of a fascinating document of how we thought about corporations before the financial collapse, Occupy Wall St.

I'd forgotten that the financial industry was getting very little attention from anti-corporate types befor I've seen the movie based on this book so not too many surprises. I'd forgotten that the financial industry was getting very little attention from anti-corporate types before see also: No Logo but it's very jarring now that this book focuses almost exclusively on companies that actually make products e.

The banks did a good job of operating under the radar until shit went down. A few take-aways for me: May 23, Fraser Gibbs rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: The Corporation is a no compromise look at the rise of the Corporation and the growth of it's important as a structure in society. It examines from the ground up how corporations have come to dominate our modern world and why the structure of the corporation has lead to abuses of resources, people and the environment in the pursuit of profit.

Using a series of specific examples such as Agent Orange during the Vietnam War as promoted by Monsanto or the aggressive activities of Wal-Mart that shed The Corporation is a no compromise look at the rise of the Corporation and the growth of it's important as a structure in society. Using a series of specific examples such as Agent Orange during the Vietnam War as promoted by Monsanto or the aggressive activities of Wal-Mart that shed light on some of the less than reputable activities by these organizations. From this it builds an argument that the corporation itself is not evil, because corporation are made up of people.

However corporations are by design are for the pursuit of the highest possible profits and return on investment to their respective shareholders. They are legally mandated to do so and in this process have become warped and will through human ingenuity exploit all possible channels to do so. Personally I enjoyed the Corporation and it is one of my favourite business books. If anyone enjoyed the book or are simply interested, the Documentary film on the book is fantastic.

Nov 30, Chris rated it really liked it. Externalization is a major lever to "winning" in a competitive market. Externalization is bad for pretty much everyone except the one externalizing. Corporations are really good at externalizing and, ironically, using the govt to do so.

My key take away from the book is that corporations were created by the govt and therefore can be un-made or re-made by it as well.

It takes political will to do so, but is entirely possible to "rewrite" corporations from being incentivized to act like sociopaths in Externalization is a major lever to "winning" in a competitive market. It takes political will to do so, but is entirely possible to "rewrite" corporations from being incentivized to act like sociopaths into something more socially just.

THE CORPORATION: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power

Mar 29, Peter rated it it was amazing Shelves: Falls in line with my current reading matter. Bakan sees the corporate culture as pathological and explains just why and what corporations do to deserve that designation. There must be a way of preventing corporate money from co opting the political process the way it has. For us to survive, there HAS to be a way to prevent that. Got one more book in this "trilogy" then I will have to sit Falls in line with my current reading matter. Got one more book in this "trilogy" then I will have to sit down and write an epistle.

Jan 17, Thomas Ray rated it it was amazing Shelves: Brilliantly shows that if a corporation is a person, the person is a psychopath. Other excellent works on economics: Jul 30, Michael Duane Robbins rated it it was amazing. It's even worse than you thought. I watched the documentary in and loved it, but forgot most of it by The book is short and a quick read, and should be required reading in business schools across the globe. The crux of the argument is that the corporation is an externalizing more on this later pathological entity. Some of the most important topics discusses were: I was shocked to read that corpora I watched the documentary in and loved it, but forgot most of it by I was shocked to read that corporations were banned in Britain from the Bubble Act of up until its repeal in It's extremely interesting to read early critiques of the corporate form dating back to the s.

Even Adam Smith criticized them in The Wealth of Nations, even though they were still banned when he published his book in ! The corporation was born through scam companies that "jobbers" sold shares of to gullible customers in Exchange Alley in London. These were chartered by the crown to run as state monopolies in the colonies of the British empire. Corporations began to flourish only through mega investment projects like railroads that required more capital than traditional partnerships could provide, and in 9 years between and , "the number of corporations grew tenfold, from 33 to This made investment in shares extremely unattractive for most ordinary people.

Limited liability was pushed because it would allow corporations to raise enormous sums from middle-class people, and was touted by its supporters as a great equalizer of men, because it would allow the middle-classes to partake in an activity heretofore solely reserved to the wealthy. The Select Committee on Partnerships England in pinned their support on the "self-respect" that this would bring to people, and that it would help "preserve order" by encouraging these plebs to respect private property and the law out of their own economic self-interest.

It was vehemently opposed by some in England, with one parliamentarian stating that it would ""enable persons to embark in trade with a limited chance of loss, but with an unlimited chance of gain" and thus encourage "a system of vicious and improvident speculation.

He touches upon the history of 'corporate primacy' to show that legally, the one and only mandate of a corporation is to seek wealth for its shareholders. CSR is only pursued if it can help the corporation gain wealth. Therefore, like a psychopath, the corporation understands the rational necessity for CSR, but only does it out of self gain, and crushes the CSR program immediately if it clashes with profit or possibly profitable new ventures. Corporations are not inherently evil nor are they filled with people who are malevolent and nasty.

Rather, as the book and the movie elucidate, corporations have an institutional flaw, they have outlived their narrow utility, and their infestation into every corner of modern life leads to a sick society. The 14th amendment to the U. Thus the corporation began its existence of personhood through a brutal logic of narrow self-interest manipulating the public good. He has written widely on law and its social and economic impact and in addition to as writing The Corporation the book, he is the co-creator and writer of the film of the same name.

Co-directors of the film are Jennifer Abbott and Mark Achbar who is most well-known as the co-director of the top grossing Canadian feature documentary of all time most: Noam Chomsky and the Media. Taking that bizarre rule of law that gives a corporation the legal rights that you or I have, Bakan uses a standard diagnostic checklist of psychopathic traits and finds that the corporation fits every one. For example, corporations, like psychopaths, are notorious for the ability to charm others with a false front, hiding the dirty secrets hidden beneath.

Enron is a good example of a company taking that to the extreme but they are not an aberration nor are they unusual. One point of importance regarding corporations that was never mentioned in the movie but in the introduction of the book is that Bakan is not writing about small incorporated businesses or any-sized not-for-profits or even privately owned business. In The Corporation Bakan gives a history of corporations based on numerous interviews with leading economic thinkers, business executives, critics, and folks who have been victimized by corporate treachery.

In the 17th century the business form of the corporation was becoming a popular way of financing colonial enterprises.

The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power - Joel Bakan - Google Книги

In the 18th century, fueled by the industrial revolution, corporations multiplied exponentially in postrevolutionary America. But it was in the 19th century that the American railroad barons really brought the corporate era to the forefront. My the midth century even the middle class were starting to put money into these corporate enterprises but there was a major barrier stopping the general public from becoming involved: Critics at the time contended this was immoral as it protected investors from their own failures. Essentially limited liability was used as a tool to manipulate the middle class to make the rich get richer while at the same time teasing much of the population with the carrot of possible wealth.

As these newly protected individuals invested in corporations, someone needed to be responsible for the misdeeds of those corporations. Bakan recounts some frightening history of the corporation as it developed over the years. This disdain for government regulation and activity remains to this day, in no small part as a result of the ongoing corporate campaign to discredit all things done by the public, and glorify all things done with private interest.

For example BP and Shell go to great lengths to advertise their investments in alternative energy while, on the other hand, Esso denies global warming exists, spends millions pushing this, and refuses to invest in alternative energy. According to the dictates of corporate activity, either BP and Shell see economic value in these renewable energy sources, or they are lying and the PR is nothing more than doublespeak.

Bakan interviews Milton Friedman, Nobel laureate and pre-eminent economist, who argues that the only moral imperative a corporation has is to its shareholders.

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This sort of cycnicism from the belly of the beast of the conservative, corporate world is evident throughout the book. One of the best examples of this scary corporate image of itself comes from Pfizer. In the movie they interview a Pfizer spokesperson, Tom Kline, who is out on the street, greeting neighbours of the pharmaceutical giant. The absolute transparency of Kline as a human being is disturbing as he talks about being a good neighbour with locals coming out of the subway station who look at him suspiciously, nodding and smiling warily. It holds out promises of help, reassures people, and sometimes works.

We should not, however, expect very much from it. In fact the opposite is true. For example, Pfizer brags a great deal about the free drugs they give away but admit because they have to, to their shareholders that the giveaways cost the company almost nothing because of their low marginal costs. Yet the company gets good PR, doctors think Pfizer is great, the employees and community think they are great. Yet the executives who work for Monsanto might coach little league softball, might kiss their children at night, might even volunteer at a food bank. The same is true here. Throughout the book there are stories of corporate hypocrisy that has never been apologized for, or even admitted to, giving weight to the argument that corporations have an institutional psychopathy.

IBM was selling and servicing business machines to the Nazis for the purpose of tabulating the Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, etc. But GM was doing just as much for the Nazis. However, Bakan points out that the historical criticism of these companies out of context should be kept in context as there are countless corporations currently doing business with dictatorships. The reality, of course, is that corporations prefer dictatorships; it is easier to do business.


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One of the most incredible and underreported historical stories told by Bakan in the book and recounted well in the movie is that of Smedley Butler. Butler was a former U. Butler, however, was the wrong man to pick and had come to loathe the U. I helped make Mexico…safe for American oil interests in …. The best he could do was create a racket in three cities. The Marines operated on three continents. Little has changed to this day. The hypocrisy of some of these corporations and their ideological backers is astounding.