Civilizing the Economy A New Economics of Provision

The Color of Corporations

Posted Apr 24, 2013 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, No Comments

When you think of corporations, what color are they? Are they black or white?  The Supreme Court decision to see them as deserving the right to free speech makes the answer trickier than one might imagine. 

BP is not a bad citizen

Posted Jul 13, 2010 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, 5 Comments

BP is not a bad corporate citizen; because it is not a citizen at all.  This idea of a “corporate citizen “is just a bad idea.  It doesn’t show much understanding of either corporations or citizens.  In Civilizing the Economy, I outline four aspects of a corporation or four ways we can think about them: as property, as a human community designed to produce goods and services, as an agent, and as a provider.

Let’s look at the idea that a corporation is a property first.  Obviously it is.  We can buy and sell them.  Milton Friedman’s famous essay that the only social responsibility of corporations is to make a profit treats corporations this way.  Friedman is not really talking about the obligations of corporations in this essay, but of the corporate executives who exist in an agent-principle relationship with the owners.  Corporations are the property of the owners, and the executive has an obligation to the owners.  Executives are essentially property managers.

Marvin T. Brown, Ph.D teaches business and organizational ethics at the University of San Francisco and Saybrook University in San Francisco.

This book is the culmination of 30 years of teaching and writing on business and society from a communicative perspective. Visit workingethics.com for more information.

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