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Corpocracy: How CEOs and the Business Roundtable Hijacked the World's Greatest Wealth Machine -- And How to Get It Back Hardcover – December 4, 2007
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Based on seven years of reporting from over a dozen countries, writer Tom Wainwright takes you on an extraordinary journey into the business of being a drug lord. Learn more.
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"a facinating read" (City AM podcast www.cityam.com, Wednesday 23rd January 2008)
"...a timely new book...deserves to be read." (Pensions & Investments, Monday 21st January 2008)
From the Inside Flap
Corporations were conceived and first chartered to serve the public good to exploit hard-to-find resources and to undertake projects individual businesspeople couldn't manage alone. But times have changed, corporate executives have taken on regal authority, and the public good has been dropped from the equation.
Modern corporations are free to maximize their wealth but owe nothing to the individuals and communities around them. They balk at government regulation and lock out shareholders while executives use inside baseball to reward themselves with massive pay packages. Today's CEOs are beholden to one thing onlyprofit for profit's sakeand our communities, our workforce, and our environment frequently suffer for it. While over-regulation of corporations will destroy the economy, doing nothing to change corporate behavior might well destroy everything else.
In Corpocracy, longtime corporate lawyer, venture capitalist, and shareholder activist Robert Monks reveals how corporations seized control, how they abuse their power, and what we canand mustdo to rein them in. In this clear and careful analysis, Monks outlines a plan for reconciling the competing interests of corporations and society through thoughtful shareholder activism that protects the interests of corporations and everyone else.
Shareholder control over large corporations is as weak as it has ever been. Not only are corporations rarely held to account by government regulation, they face even less control by those whose interests they ostensibly serve. Yet, when engaged and active, shareholders still hold the power to influence corporate behavior and governance in ways that can benefit everyone.
Corporate capitalism is still the best chance for mankind to improve life on earth. But corporations must be made to operate within the rules of legitimate authority without retarding their ability to create wealth. It's up to us to find a path that reins in corporations without stifling their ability to innovate and profit. Corpocracy is the map that will guide us to better corporations and a better world for us all.
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Top Customer Reviews
It might, at first sight, seem that the situation which he analyses so penetratingly is peculiar to the United States and that the wider world need not actively concern itself with the author's message. This would be to underestimate the importance of this book. The lessons to be drawn from the consequences of the rise of the political power of American business, which it chronicles, are universal. In addition, given the global reach of American corporations, the need to restore their accountability to their investors within an effective regulatory framework has global implications.
Corpocracy is not a lament, though it describes much that is lamentable. It is a sober and arresting account of the manner in which the author's personal efforts to persuade the appropriate authorities, regulators and major investing institutions to do their duty, morally and juridically, has met with little effective response.Read more ›
"Efficiency," without regard for externalities (eg. pollution, off-shoring American jobs), using "GWAP" reporting (Gee, Whatever Accounting Principles), surrounded by board member, accounting firm, pay, board-evaluation consultant, and stock analyst conflicts of interest, fortified by think-tanks funded by corporations, and beyond accountability via ending the "one share, one vote" rule - their top leaders enjoy scandalous pay and retirement packages, without regard to organizational performance.
At they same time today's corporations are expanding their realms by privatizing government roads, health care, and warfare functions, in the supposed name of efficiency - while actually usually costing more, providing lower service levels, and/or even less accountability. (Helping vitiate a key Democrat-party base of government workers, and gaining increased lobbying influence are additional benefits.) Other government "benefits" today's organizations enjoy include toothless law and regulation enforcement (eg. SEC, DOL), and the ability to shed expensive pension obligations through bankruptcy or simply walking away.
Monks sees pension funds as having a key role in taming today's out of control corporations. Specifically, he touts Hermes Investment Management Company (a London pension fund for phone workers) as an example of what could be done. Monks also praises Elliott Spitzer for accomplishing far more than the SEC or DOL with fewer staff, CEOs Gary Immelt of G.E. and Frank Blake of Home Depot (replaced Robert Nardelli) as examples of principled leaders.Read more ›
For example, he points to the role of Douglas Ginsburg, a leader in the field of law and economics, in instilling a belief that it is okay for corporations to violate environmental laws, as long as they account for possible sanctions in their budget. Under Ginsburg's view, according to Monks, people aren't motivated by moral or social obligation but by simple desire and cost-benefit analysis.
Then there is Bob's analysis of Lewis Powell's court decisions. His finding of a constitutionally protected right to "corporate speech" provided the judicial framework for management "to commit untold corporate resources to influence public opinion and public votes - resources so huge and unmatchable that individual contributions are now all but meaningless in state and nationals elections."
And, of course, the Business Roundtable holds a special place in Bob's heart. The "BRT has come to function in significant part as an agent for the CEOs...who have established themselves as a new and separate class in the governance of American corporations, answerable to virtually no one, accountable only to themselves."
Monks appears to be a believer in the forces of markets but regulated to ensure a level playing field.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Horrible, Horrible, Horrible book. It is nothing but the author constantly bringing up how CEO's are paid to much. The most repetitive book I have ever read. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Dylan Jacobs
What Sir Adrian Cadbury and others have written on the importance of this book, its incisiveness and the impact of the issue cannot be stressed enough. Read morePublished on October 8, 2011 by Scott S. Lichtenstein
The author has given a great expose' on the problems of abuse that exist in corporate America. The expectation that corporate boards are serving as a watch dog in their duties is... Read morePublished on May 28, 2008 by Dwight L. Short
When, on some future date, the Mount Rushmore of Corporate Governance is carved into some mountainside, Bob Monks' profile should be chiseled into the stoneface in a position... Read morePublished on December 26, 2007 by John C. Coffee