[Corporations] cannot commit treason, nor be outlawed nor excommunicated, for they have no souls.
—Sir Edward Coke (1644)
As General Motors entered the 1990s, the world's largest automaker found itself in serious trouble. Under Chairman Robert Stempel, an engineer with a nice-guy reputation, GM steadily hemorrhaged red ink. By 1992, after losing $16.5 billion in its North American operations, Stempel was forced to announce closure of 21 of GM's 120 factories (McWhirter 1992). With the Ford Motor Company undercutting its labor costs by almost $800 per vehicle, GM's U.S. market share shrank over two decades from one-half to less than one-third. On April 6, 1992, the General Motors board of directors revolted, booting off three GM executives. They also replaced Stempel as head of the board's executive committee with a long-time outside GM director, Robert Smale, a former CEO of consumer products giant Procter & Gamble. Stempel's opponents expected that Smale's strong marketing experience would infuse GM management with a badly needed customer focus. The new board leadership hoped to boost GM's bottom line by getting tough on the company's suppliers, managers, and unions. They further strengthened their hand by installing John Smith Jr., a former head of GM's profitable European operations, as GM president. Smith moved his inner circle of hotshot baby-boomer finance and marketing executives (who called themselves "the cowboys") to a distant technical center, leaving a clueless Stempel to prowl the vacated fourteenth floor of GM's landmark Detroit headquarters. That