In Whose Interests

In Whose Interests: An Essay on Multinational Corporations

M. PATRICIA MARCHAK
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 340
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt24hm3v
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  • Book Info
    In Whose Interests
    Book Description:

    In In Whose Interests, Patricia Marchak adopts a critical perspective, arguing that multinational corporations do not operate in the interests of society at large or in the interests of a national society such as Canada. Creating and sustaining a set of interests particular to their own well-being and growth, they are efficient organizations for which human labour and management of technical resources are primarily of monetary value. Such resources, along with natural materials, are managed by and for corporations so that technology, labour, and knowledge are harnessed to corporate growth rather than social welfare. Divided into two parts, the first concerned with the political economy of a corporate capitalism with particular reference to the Canadian situation, the second concerned with the internal organization of corporations, and with the contributions of sociology to an understanding of these, In Whose Interest provides a comprehensive entry into the literature of political economy.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9092-2
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-5)
  3. LIST OF TABLES
    (pp. 6-6)
  4. LIST OF FIGURES
    (pp. 6-6)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 7-7)
    P.M.
  6. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 8-18)

    The young woman hired to guide visitors through the corporate smelter at Kitimat informs her entourage that Alcan is one of the largest aluminum companies in ″the free world.″ The free world apparently means an economy planned and organized by privately owned corporations rather than by the state. It also means, but this is less apparent, an economy planned in the interests of private corporations rather than those ostensibly represented by the state. The interests of privately owned corporations are by definition those of its owners. The practical interests of the state are more ambiguous but in the democratic creed...

  7. PART ONE CANADIAN POLITICAL ECONOMY
    • CHAPTER 1 LEGAL FICTIONS
      (pp. 21-59)

      It may be grammatically incorrect to use the phrase ″in whose interests″ in connection with impersonal corporate organizations, but the phrase is legally appropriate. In Canadian law a corporation is an individual entity with all the attributes of singularity and private interests even though it contains a large number of separate members who may pursue their own ends. The Canada Business Corporations Act spells out the similarity between ″real″ persons and ″corporate″ persons. It informs readers that individuals are ″natural persons.″ But the generic term ″persons″ includes: ″an individual, partnership, association, body corporate, trustee, executor, administrator or legal representative.″³ The...

    • CHAPTER 2 ″TECHNOLOGY AND EMPIRE″
      (pp. 60-95)

      Widespread is the sentiment that technology has its own momentum. Things are invented and more things automatically follow. The process needs only original minds, individuals who ″happen″ to invent technical means of doing things that no one else had ever thought of.

      A divergent interpretation needs consideration when one reviews the history not of technical invention as such, but of the launching of technical invention into the public realm - the utilization and application of techniques which may well have been known and available centuries earlier. Historian Henri Pirenne observed that the Vikings lost America as soon as they discovered...

    • CHAPTER 3 RESOURCES, MARKETS, AND THE STATE
      (pp. 96-128)

      In the Slocan Valley in British Columbia a group of residents refuse to believe in the virtues of big corporations. Knowledgeable about forestry practices and alternative means of utilizing the products of forests, they obtained a ″make-work″ grant from the Federal government in the early 1970s, and researched their situation. Their review of what has happened to their only industry over the past quarter-century might stand as a review of what has happened in almost every industry, and the consequences they note for their valley are equally true for other regions dependent on resources: ″From 34 local, independent logging operators...

  8. PART TWO SOCIOLOGY OF INDUSTRIAL ORGANIZATIONS AND THE CLASS STRUCTURE
    • CHAPTER 4 SYSTEMS FOR MANAGEMENT
      (pp. 131-159)

      Contemporary multinational corporations are characterized by highly efficient management systems. The systems did not develop automatically or easily. Although some companies were models of efficiency with respect to their division of labour before World War I, they were few in number. The phenomenon of the multinational corporation, and particularly of the corporation which is both decentralized with respect to its daily operations and centralized with respect to its financial and policy decision-making, is largely a phenomenon of the post-second-war period.² There was a considerable time-lag for most companies between early dominance in the market and creation of an internal system...

    • CHAPTER 5 THE MANAGEMENT OF LABOUR
      (pp. 160-200)

      The industrial revolution was undoubtedly a barbaric era of management. The degradation of the poor, the unholy working conditions of the men, women, and children who staffed factories, the overt force applied when they resisted: all are documented features of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. There have been changes, and some of these changes were introduced by members of the same class as benefited from the exploitation of workers, through the developing democratic institutions of national parliaments. But the emphasis on the political platforms which initiated change can be overdone, as it often is in textbooks on the development...

    • CHAPTER 6 THE MANAGEMENT OF MANAGEMENT
      (pp. 201-230)

      The effects of a division of labour are not limited to productivity increases. Confining our attention to the internal effects, we are struck by the capacity of large and complex corporate bodies to engender loyalty in their higher-ranking members. One argument is that loyalty is increased where workers are brought into consultative relationships with one another in the absence of external authority. But loyalty is displayed equally intensely within obviously hierarchical organizations, and in any event, corporate bodies by their nature always involve a hierarchy of power.

      The argument advanced instead is that within the context of organizations which are...

    • CHAPTER 7 OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL
      (pp. 231-255)

      If the labour force is managed, and the managers are managed, then one is obliged to ask: who does the managing? The answer to this is, a class of owners and directors, or those acting on behalf of the interests of a propertied class.

      The answer, while true, is incomplete. Some of those acting on behalf of the interests of an owning class are appointed executives, and there are reasonable questions to be asked about their precise relationship to owners. The definition of ″ownership″ itself is sometimes problematic. There are also different kinds of ownership, or at least different valuable...

  9. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 256-273)

    The arguments throughout this essay, and the empirical data and case studies cited, have been concerned with the Canadian economy as a segment of expanding American capitalism carried by growing multinational corporations. These arguments are that:

    1. Monopoly is a characteristic form of capitalism: competition is characteristic only of the labour market.

    2. Market control is more critical to national independence than possession of industrial resources.

    3. National and regional governments in Canada are constrained in their exercise of political power by their limited economic power relative to multinational corporations.

    4. Such governments, however, have not attempted to move beyond apparent constraints and have,...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 274-298)
  11. SUGGESTED FURTHER READING
    (pp. 299-304)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 305-317)