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"The Corporation"

1) Watch the documentary, "The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power" is a Canadian documentary by Joel Bakan. Focusing on US corporations, the film traces their evolution "from a legal entity that originated as a government-chartered institution meant to affect specific public functions, to the rise of the modern commercial institution entitled to most of the legal rights of a person."

Here's a link to Part 1 of 23:

The link above was posted by the owners of the film. You can find the additional 22 parts easily. It can be also rented on for $2.99.

Bakan makes a case that the corporation is incapable of acting responsibly or ethically. Instead, he argues that their misbehavior is consistent with the way they are legally defined as rational, immortal, non-human persons charged with the primary goal of creating shareholder wealth. His argument is similar to the argument in Unit 3 that white collar crime is the result of an underlying psychological disorder. His position sounds anti-capitalist in certain parts of the film but mostly the argument is against corporations rather than against free market competition. There's a lot to think about, plenty to disagree with, and it's always interesting to see how the US is viewed from the outside.

2) Write a 3-4 page response.
Indicate what you learned from the documentary (about one page).
Identify two things you agreed with and explain (about one half page each).
Identify two things that you were not so sure about and explain (about one half page each).
Wrap up with a brief paragraph indicating whether you would recommend this assignment for future classes and/or how the assignment should be modified.

Solution Preview

This documentary was very disturbing and I knew much of what was discussed in it. The mostly unfavorable reflection on corporations is something that people who do not understand corporations should see. The documentary reveals some historic information that is fascinating, and the use of the professor and business leaders made some impact. When the one company leader gets up after his interview, he remarks something to the effect of his lying time was over.

Not every corporation is bad. This documentary focuses on larger corporations, those who operate above or in spite of the laws in the country, they operate. Pollution, testing, labor, and the lack of fines paid for these acts of law ignoring are a large part of the fifth section of the documentary. These companies break laws of antitrust, food and drug, and other rules established, especially in the United States. Breaking the law with its accompanying fines and penalties are usually less than the profit that can be made. So doing these things without regard of the law is seen as a business decision. Environmental concerns are among the most ignored.

Companies have, as an entity, a job to do. It is to make a profit for the shareholders/owners. As such, their focus is on the best and most ...

Solution Summary

The following posting provides a review of the documentary, "The Corporation."