The American Corporation Today

By Carl Kaysen | Go to book overview

Foreword

For most of its existence the Sloan Foundation has been headed by a leader from the corporate world. From 1934 until his death in 1966, Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. was in charge. Since 1989, former IBM Senior Vice-President Ralph E. Gomory has been the president. (During the intervening years the Foundation was headed by former academic administrators.) This kind of leadership is unique among the large general-purpose foundations and helps to explain the Foundation's sponsership of this volume of essays. A deep understanding of the importance of corporations to American society is built into the Sloan Foundation's history.

That historical understanding, however, does not necessarily provide a basis for prescribing about the role of the corporation in today's world. But it certainly leads to questions. Does focus on efficiency of operations and shareholder return produce the best societal outcomes? Are societal outcomes a corporation's business? Are two decades of declining real wages for most of the U.S. labor force and significant growth in inequality of incomes the corporation's concerns?

The Archer Daniels Midland Company ( ADM) runs an ad on television identifying itself with President John F. Kennedy's exhortation at his inaugural address: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." Is that admonition a practical policy for the corporation? If American corporations, in the aggregate, shared that philosophy, how would they act differently? Or does pursuing the goals of efficiency and shareholder return serve the public interest most effectively? These are some of the questions that prompted the Sloan Foundation to undertake this project.

Harvard professor Edward S. Mason and others examined the role of the corporation in 1959 in the book The Corporation in Modern Society. But

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The American Corporation Today
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Contributors ix
  • 1 - Introduction and Overview 3
  • Appendix 20
  • 2 - The Rise and Transformation of the American Corporation 28
  • Notes 67
  • 3 - How American is the American Corporation? 74
  • Notes 97
  • 4 from Antitrust to Corporation Governance? the Corporation and the Law: 1959-1994 102
  • Notes 122
  • 5 - Financing the American Corporation: the Changing Menu of Financial Relationships 128
  • References 178
  • 6 - The U.S. Corporation and Technical Progress 187
  • References 231
  • 7 - The American Corporation as an Employer: Past, Present, and Future Possibilities 242
  • References 267
  • 8 - The Corporation Faces Issues of Race and Gender 269
  • Notes 290
  • 9 - Corporate Education and Training 292
  • References 319
  • 10 - The Modern Corporation as an Efficiency Instrument: the Comparative Contracting Perspective 327
  • Notes 354
  • Notes 356
  • 11 - The Corporation as a Dispenser of Welfare and Security 360
  • Notes 379
  • References 380
  • 12 - Almost Everywhere: Surging Inequality and Falling Real Wages 383
  • Notes 409
  • 13 - The Corporation as a Political Actor 413
  • Notes 433
  • 14 - Architecture and the Business Corporation 436
  • Notes 470
  • Index 487
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