The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power
About the Book
- Release Date: 2003
- Canada (Penguin), US (Free Press, Simon and Schuster) and UK (Random House)
Joel Bakan’s 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.
What People Are Saying…
Sunday Star-Times (New Zealand)
“Cool, rational, devastating…. As a manifesto for change, it could be the most important book written in decades.”
“Devastating…crystalline, cant-clearing…Many readers will do what I did upon finishing the book: reach for the phone, call a friend, and say, ‘This is the book we’ve been waiting for.'”
The Observer (United Kingdom)
International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy
Booklist - starred review
Harvard Business Review
The Globe and Mail
26 International Awards. Groundbreaking Analysis.
Provoking, witty, stylish and sweepingly informative, THE CORPORATION explores the nature and spectacular rise of the dominant institution of our time. Taking its status as a legal “person” to the logical conclusion, the film puts the corporation on the psychiatrist’s couch to ask “What kind of person is it?” The answer: a psychopath.
San Francisco Bay Guardian
The New York Post
"Thought-provoking doc... an entertaining package"
"Fast-paced, highly enjoyable and provocative."
San Francisco Chronicle
"Coolheaded and incisive...thorough and informative... It leaves audiences with a cold shiver."