Changing Organizations: Business Networks in the New Political Economy

By David Knoke | Go to book overview

10
Learning
to Evolve

He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.

—Francis Bacon, Of Innovations (1625)

The Monsanto Company, a giant St. Louis-based agribusiness corporation, wanted to buy the nation's largest cotton seed breeder company, which had just won U.S. patent approval for a promising genetic engineering process. The Delta & Pine Land Company's 1998 patent involved creating molecular switches that would force food and fiber plants to produce toxic proteins that sterilized their seeds (Specter 2000). Thus, farmers couldn't save their harvested seeds to plant next year's crop, a common practice among impoverished cultivators in developing nations. Instead, they would be forced to buy new seeds annually from Monsanto and other corporate seed producers. Bioengineering foes dubbed these self-sterilizing plants Terminators, after the Arnold Schwarzenegger robotic killer. They demonized "Monsatan" as the poster child for greedy corporations reaping huge profits by pushing dangerous biotechnologies that threatened to break down the natural order. The anti-biotech movement harvested a media bonanza by hyping unverified claims that gene-altered corn pollen blowing onto milkweed leaves was destroying the larvae of the much-beloved Monarch butterfly (Weiss 1999). With public protests forcing many European governments to restrict recombinant DNA products from their markets, the commercial future for biotechnology looked increasingly bleak.

Thrown on the defensive, multinational corporations championed the benefits of genetically modified crops for improving health and raising living standards in developing nations. For example, European scientists cre

-362-

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Changing Organizations: Business Networks in the New Political Economy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Changing Organizations - Business Networks in the New Political Economy *
  • Contents vii
  • Figures and Tables xi
  • Acronyms xv
  • Pre Face xvii
  • Acknowledgments xxi
  • 1 - Generating Change 1
  • 2 - Theorizing about Organizations 37
  • 3 - Resizing and Resbaping 74
  • 4 - Making Connections 120
  • 5 - Changing the Employment Contract 164
  • 6 - Investing in Social Capital 204
  • 7 - Governing the Corporation 244
  • 8 - Struggling in the Workplace 287
  • 9 - Influencing Public Policies 319
  • 10 - Learning to Evolve 362
  • Appendix - Basic Network Concepts 395
  • Notes 403
  • References 407
  • Index 461
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