THE LIMITS OF CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY by Neil W. Chamberlain

THE LIMITS OF CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

What can the large corporation do about the social problems of our times. . ."" -- consumer fraud, pollution, hard-core unemployment, urban blight, governmental giantism, coups and counter coups, the wretched peoples of the earth? Use its power for the commonweal? Cooperate in designing a more congruent and beneficent social order in which General Motors is an avuncular cog? Neither, Chamberlain, Columbia Business School Professor and social commentator (Beyond Malthus, 1970) declares in this blinder-free, bubble-pricking if somewhat academic book -- there are definite limits to corporate maneuverability as long as it's business' business to supply a consumer society with reasonably priced goods at a profit to itself. ""By insisting that the value of all things can be measured in money. . . economists have simply claimed more from the price system than it can deliver""; we've got our two-car garages and TVs in many rooms, but meaningless work, alienated and angry minorities, a second-rate ""Chevrolet"" environment, traffic-jammed freeways, and shoddy and undesired goods lying on our doorsteps. There's no way to nationalize industry, to set up workers' control, to have the state become a supra-controlling agency because there is no will; Naderist legislative regulation will be either weak enough to tolerate reformist do-little pieties or too strong to be enforceable; unions will not allow their industry to be hobbled; stockholders, concerned about performance, are content to keep management in its present hands. Our hopes, then, must be as limited as the possibilities for progress -- that the corporate hierarchy can become reponsible to its entire constituency, including those groups dissenting from its values. Chamberlain says in the crunch the responsibility is ours, and rightly.

Pub Date: Dec. 7th, 1973
Publisher: Basic Books