The Corporation - a Book Review

Topics: BP, The Corporation, Corporation Pages: 7 (2439 words) Published: August 27, 2013
Word Count: 2377

Corporations today do not have much of a positive reputation for conducting “good” business. The perception of the corporation’s goals of self-interest and profit making has been extended over the years; society is finally looking to make a change. This is what Joel Bakan, author of “The Corporation” reminds us in his book. His concerns are the faults in the creation of the corporation’s ideology and the contemptuous attempts to follow through with being “socially responsible”. Bakan explains how the government created this unique institution to evolve into something that it cannot control, even if it is not in the public’s best interest. The ideology of the corporation, the book explains, how society views the unique entity as well as shows the true colors of the hidden strategies of the corporations. There is a definite sense of Bakan’s view in the first chapter that he wants to expose the false reality of how corporations have negatively affected the world today; later in his writing he is optimistic in restructuring the boundaries of the corporations to be more socially responsible. The very culture that started our society is being taken over. We are being convinced that it is better to live within the collective social order of what makes a corporation. I. The conception of the Corporation

The book begins on how corporations were conceived about 150 years ago. In the beginning, it was designed to separate the owners from the managers, who had financial investments into the company and who did not. Today this will show how we are the victims of our own creation, where society continues to separate the working class from the management. (Bakan, 2004) In the 19th and 20th century, this view dominated the economic world and separated the wealthy from the workers. This formed a culture of like-minded, wealthy people who all had a collaborative business sense to evolve industries. (Trice & Beyer, 1993) People questioned the motives of such powerful people collaborating; it seemed dishonest to the public as they managed other people’s money. Public reputation aside, this helped finance iron, steel, railroads, breweries and countless other industries, which created jobs. The evolution of capitalism opened up transportation to these companies for nation wide capital investment. Since the middle class could now invest in corporations, it changed the meaning of liability. Each shareholder would only be liable for what they put into the corporation. People would no longer lose everything if the corporation failed. As corporations became more evident, the rules changed and it created the incorporated entity for smaller and medium sized companies to form into a much larger one. This created the era of corporate capitalism. (Bakan, 2004) This gave the companies the freedom to do what they wanted and came to dominate the US economy. As the shareholders were somewhat anonymous, the power fell onto the managers, which threatened the shareholders who banded together to have more influence on the overall organization. The formation of such a strong uniform culture would have great influence on society, government and it workers. The top management would be clones of one another. They all held the same values, ideology and like-mindedness to run these organizations. (Trice & Beyer, 1993) In the 20th century, government declared the corporation a legal “person” and assumed all legal rights and duties while operating in the economy. (Bakan, 2004) As corporations became a legal entity, meaning a “person”, the corporation would have the same rights as a person would; including the equal rights to the constitution of the United States. The tables had turned to where the government was now protecting the corporations again, like in the past. The public still viewed corporations in a negative light being greedy and uncaring. Corporations started placing ads to change the...

References: J. Bakan (2004). The corporation: The pathological pursuit of profit and power. Toronto: Penguin Canada.
Dupuis, C. (2011). ORGB 300 v4 Organizational Culture Lesson Notes. Athabasca: Athabasca University.
Trice, H. M., & Beyer, J. M. (1993). The Cultures of Work Organizations. Upper Saddle River. Prentice-Hall.
Bakan, J. (2009).
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