Summary of The Civil Corporation

The New Economy of Corporate Citizenship

First Edition: 2001 more...

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The Civil Corporation book summary
Most agree that businesses should be good corporate citizens. But what does this mean and how can you measure it?


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Some economists say that the purpose of corporations is simple: to earn profitable returns on their capital investments. All else is incidental, even superfluous. This might be termed the Milton Friedman approach, for the famous Chicago-school economist. However, others contend that corporations, particularly global ones, must assume responsibility for “sustainable economic development.” If corporations don’t, they argue, who will? Without concerted corporate action, the earth will become polluted, and sooner rather than later, global warming will increase, with calamitous effects. Poverty and hunger will mount. The superrich will live in guarded enclaves, cordoned off from the hellish and chaotic lives of the majority. In Simon Zadek’s award-winning book, the ethicist and visionary examines corporate social and environmental responsibility and provides a practical prescription for meaningful, positive changes. getAbstract says Zadek’s book is required reading for executives, public policy makers, academics and others who ponder the role of corporations in creating a sustainable world economy.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What constitutes a “civil” corporation;
  • How businesses, governmental bodies and other civil organizations can bond to solve social and environmental problems;
  • What the four “generations” of good corporate citizenship are;
  • What NGOs are; and
  • What the “pathways” to good corporate citizenship are.


Good Corporate Citizens
Recently, the corporate responsibility movement has insisted that corporations become upstanding “corporate citizens.” Business leaders and the public agree that corporations should become socially and environmentally responsible. “Civil corporations” are business...
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About the Author

Simon Zadek is a senior fellow at the Center for Government and Business at the Kennedy School at Harvard University. He is CEO of a London-based institute that promotes accountability for sustainable economic development.

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