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Corporate Irresponsibility

America's Newest Export

Lawrence E. Mitchell

View Inside Price: $65.00


December 11, 2001
320 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 9780300090239
Cloth

Also Available in:
e-book

Corporations are often so focused on making short-term profits for their stockholders that they behave in ways that adversely affect their employees, the environment, consumers, American politics, and even the long-term well-being of the corporation, says Lawrence Mitchell in this provocative book. This is a significant issue not only in the United States but also in the world, for many countries are beginning to emulate the American model of corporate governance. Mitchell criticizes this emphasis on profit maximization and the corporate legal structure that encourages it, and he offers concrete proposals to bring about more socially responsible corporate behavior.

Mitchell declares that managers should be freed from the legal and structural constraints that make it difficult for them to exercise ordinary moral judgment and be held accountable for their actions. He suggests, for example, that earnings reports be required annually rather than quarterly, that the capital gains tax be increased on stocks held for fewer than thirty days, and that elections of corporate boards of directors be held every five years rather than every year. Mitchell places the problem of corporate irresponsibility within the broader context of American life and demonstrates the extent to which contemporary corporate behavior represents a corruption of our cherished liberal values of personal freedom and individuality.

Lawrence E. Mitchell is John Theodore Fey Research Professor of Law at The George Washington University and the director of the Sloan Program for the Study of Business in Society.

 “There was no Enron scandal when Lawrence Mitchell was writing Corporate Irresponsibility, his just-published critique of American corporate capitalism, but it is dead center on all the important issues raised by it. . . . Mitchell . . . brings a liberal set of values to the subject without ideological blinders. The book is well reasoned and well researched and touches all the bases—legal, financial, economic and moral—while written in an accessible, breezy style.”—Washington Post

“An important work about the place of corporations in economic and social life. This book will interest a general audience of readers who are worried about corporate excesses.”—Joseph William Singer, Harvard Law School

Corporate Irresponsibility is an important work about the place of corporations in economic and social life. Mitchell’s approach is unique; he explains the ways in which the legal structure of the corporation induces it to act in ways that no one wants. This book will interest a general audience of readers who are worried about corporate excesses.”—Joseph William Singer, Harvard Law School

“This book is a critical resource for anyone who wants to get past the brouhaha of anti-globalization rhetoric and think clearly about what causes many corporations to fail in taking full responsibility for their huge influence in society. Lawrence Mitchell connects the dots between the theory of corporate behavior and its real impact in a world where the paramount interests of the collective good are too often forsaken by a narrow focus on short-term profits.”—Karl Schoenberger, Journalist and author of Levi’s Children: Coming to Terms with Human Rights in the Global Marketplace  

“This is an important, provocative book that is sure to stir debate between groups who advocate the need for more corporate accountability and those who see nothing wrong with the status quo.”—Publishers Weekly

“Maximizing profits, Mitchell argues, has become the overriding goal of companies at the expense of customers, the environment and their own employees, jeopardizing long-term viability. The author . . . offers a series of remedies to make companies and their managers more accountable.”—Washington Post Book World

“[Mitchell] brings a liberal set of values to the subject without ideological blinders. The book is well reasoned and well researched and touches all the bases—legal, financial, economic and moral—while written in an accessible, breezy style.”—Washington Post

“The book . . . clearly and concisely explains both the legal background and sophisticated controversies involving the law’s interactions with moral philosophy, social psychology and economic and finance theory, in a way that should make it accessible to general readers. Corporate Irresponsibility is an interesting and readable restatement of the New Corporate Law analysis of the incentives of our system, with original policy recommendations that are certain to generate further discussion.”—Daniel J.H. Greenwood, The Law and Politics Book Review

“A book that was eerily prescient of the Enron and Arthur Andersen scandals.”—Julie Bennett, Chicago Tribune

“Brief, readable, and compelling. Recommended for those who wish to understand how corporations are governed.”—Business Ethics

“Topics covered include the impact of limited liability, corporate moral judgments, wealth and social value, and investor loyalty and long-term value. An interesting writing style, current references, and excellent contemporary examples enhance the book. . . . Even those who disagree with the author’s thesis will find the book interesting.”—Choice