Summary of The Corporation

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The Corporation book summary


6 Overall

6 Applicability

8 Innovation

7 Style


The steady drumbeat of corporate scandals in recent years has made many observers wonder what happened to corporate responsibility. Law professor Joel Bakan has a contrarian answer: Corporate responsibility never existed in the first place. He persuasively argues that corporations are "pathological" to the core, spurred by tradition and legal precedent to ignore all goals except maximizing profits. Bakan’s tone is strident at times, and the back-cover endorsement by noted leftist MIT linguistics professor Noam Chomsky may suggest that Bakan is not a dispassionate observer. Still, he compiles enough detail to bolster his point. His account of how General Motors reputedly calculated that it was cheaper to let people die due to a safety flaw than fix the defect is eye opening - although not necessarily surprising to readers who share the author’s disdain for big business. recommends this study to those who would like to explore corporate’ behavior and its impact on society, albeit from a contrarian’s point of view.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the corporation rose to prominence
  • Why corporate social responsibility is a myth and
  • Why corporations have evolved into pathological organizations and how that manifests in their actions.

About the Author

Legal scholar Joel Bakan is a professor of law at the University of British Columbia. He is a former Rhodes scholar and a former law clerk to the chief justice of the Canadian Supreme Court. Bakan’s previous book is Just Words: Constitutional Rights and Social Wrongs.



The Rise of the "Pathological" Enterprise
In the past century and a half, the corporation has gone from a relative rarity to the most powerful institution in the world. Corporations increasingly control the society’s food, clothes and media, and they have begun to dictate public...

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