Summary of Tyranny of the Bottom Line

Why Corporations Make Good People Do Bad Things

Berrett-Koehler, more...

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Tyranny of the Bottom Line book summary
Does the bottom line drag us all down with it?


6 Overall

4 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style


Are you in the mood for some top-notch, well-documented corporation bashing? Ralph W. Estes’ powerful work is widely considered one of the most important books written on American corporations and their vast power, and he has nothing kind to say. Compelling and clearly written, his book shines a bright light into some very dark, creepy corners. And although he overstates, overgeneralizes and tends to blame corporations for every evil in society, there’s no debating that the concept of stakeholder accountability that Estes sets forth has moved to center-stage. Estes’ book specifically covers United States-based corporations, but getAbstract recommends this book to anyone who is subject to corporate influence, and - from the rainforest hunter-gatherer to you - that’s everybody.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why many corporations have abandoned ethical concerns;
  • How large corporations can wield even more power than state governments; and
  • How CEOs and executives justify their huge salaries.


What’s Wrong
The corporate system has gone astray. The history of corporations shows that their original purpose has been "systematically perverted" through an unbalanced approach that focuses solely on profit-and-loss. Note these symptoms of corporate power gone wrong: Permanent...
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About the Author

Ralph W. Estes is a professor of business administration at The American University, as well as resident scholar and co-founder of The Center for the Advancement of Public Policy in Washington, DC. He is also a CPA and was senior accountant with Arthur Andersen & Co.

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