MARK J. ROE
About one-third of a century ago, the editor of The Corporation in Modern Society collected a set of essays on the state of the large public corporation in the United States, and to a modern reader the collection displays a consensus view of the American corporation, a view that must have reflected the unstated assumptions of many thoughtful Americans: the large corporation was a powerful creature that needed to be tamed. And that taming was the central task for public policy. Although the corporation was highly successful in producing wealth for Americans, public constraints had to stop it from running roughshod over employees and communities. It was a powerful actor that the public and the polity had to watch warily.
Edward Mason, the editor of The Corporation in Modern Society, said, "This powerful corporate machine, which so successfully grinds out the goods we want, seems to be running without any discernible controls." 1 One contributor said that the corporation had "produced a tension of power . . . [as] giant enterprises . . . come to rival the sovereignty of the state itself." 2 Carl Kaysen, a contributor then and the editor of this volume, concluded: "The proposition that a group of giant business corporations . . . embodies a significant and troublesome concentration of power is the cliché which serves this volume as a foundation stone." 3