In Defense of the Corporation

In Defense of the Corporation

Author: Robert Hessen
ISBN: 978-0-8179-7072-7
Publication Date: 2/2/1978
Pages: 134

In this book Hessen presents an uncompromising defense of the right of corporation to exist and function freely. He offers a reinterpretation of the nature and historic origins of corporate enterprise, and a spirited challenge to the current widespread condemnation of giant corporations. Today Ralph Nader is recognized as the most vocal critic of the corporation. Hessen outlines and examines Nader's criticisms—namely, that giant corporations victimize shareholders, crush smaller competitors and overcharge consumers. He also analyzes Nader's proposals for remedial legislation: Nader wants Congress to require giant corporations to make fundamental changes in their internal structure and operating methods, such as stripping corporate officers of their authority to make decisions, and breaking up any corporation whose share of the market exceeds 12 percent. Among the other issues Hessen analyzes are: how did the idea originate that corporations are "creatures of the state" and is this idea valid? Are giant corporations "private governments," and are the officers self-perpetuating oligarchs? Is "corporate democracy" a worthwhile goal? Why are existing state incorporation laws permissive, and do they wrongfully favor corporate officers at the expense of shareholders? Is federal chartering of corporations necessary, as Ralph Nader claims? Do giant corporations possess monopoly power and should the antitrust laws be reinforced?

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Robert Hessen

Robert Hessen, a Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, is a historian specializing in American economic and business history. He received his B.A. from Queens College, his M.A. from Harvard University and his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He taught in the Graduate School of Business at Columbia until 1974. Since then, when he joined the Hoover Institution, he has taught in Stanford's Graduate School of Business.


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