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The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea Paperback – Jan 11 2005

3.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (Jan. 11 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812972872
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812972870
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #123,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Considering the astounding impact companies have had on every corner of civilization, it's amazing that the development of the institution has been largely unexamined. Economist editors Micklethwait and Wooldridge present a compact and timely book that deftly sketches the history of the company. They trace its progress from Assyrian partnership agreements through the 16th- and 17th-century European "charter companies" that opened trade with distant parts of the world, to today's multinationals. The authors' breadth of knowledge is impressive. They infuse their engaging prose with a wide range of cultural, historical and literary references, with quotes from poets to presidents. Micklethwait and Wooldrige point out that the enormous power wielded by the company is nothing new. Companies were behind the slave trade, opium and imperialism, and the British East India Company ruled the subcontinent with its standing army of native troops, outmanning the British army two to one. By comparison, the modern company is a bastion of restraint and morality. In a short, final chapter on the company's future, the authors argue against the fear, in antiglobalization circles, that "a handful of giant companies are engaged in a `silent takeover' of the world." Indeed, trends point toward large organizations breaking into smaller units. Moreover, the authors argue that for all the change companies have engendered over time, their force has been for an aggregate good.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Two Economist staffers explain how the joint-stock company became today's corporate giant.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There are few creatures more vilified in today's world than corporations. For some, companies are the instruments of evil, they exist to profit at the expense of ordinary people, and their chief executives are defamed for their greed and ambition. All the same, most people live off the checks they receive from those evil beasts; and, being the CEO of a large company offers comparable prestige with other esteemed professions.
Wrestling with these competing images of corporations is part of what "The Company" aims at. John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, both of The Economist, embark on an ambitious project to show that the corporation lies at the heart and center of organized societies-more so than the state, the commune, the political party, the church, and others.
Having put modesty aside, the authors deliver on their promise with great skill, both literary and scholarly. All pervasive in their narrative is a deep sense of historical perspective-of contrasting the companies of today with those of the past. This need of putting the present in context is extremely valuable in canvassing the role that corporations (and particularly multinationals) play in the world today.
Several themes emerge in this historical journey. The first is the evolution of the company itself through a continuous political debate about its role and place in society. A second charts the different attitudes that societies have had towards companies; in particular the authors focus on the United States, Britain, Germany and Japan.
At the heart of this book is the dialectic between society and company; the Virginia Company, for example, effectively introduced democracy in America in 1619. This helps explains why Americans have been more receptive to companies that have other countries.
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Format: Hardcover
* THE COMPANY, by John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge, is a brief
historical survey of the evolution of the concept of the corporate
Partnerships and shareholding are concepts that go back a long time.
One of the most prominent of the "pre-modern" corporations was the
British East India Company, established by royal charter to control
trade with India, in fact becoming the effective government of India
for a time. However, the modern company didn't really arise until the
last half of the 19th century.
Corporations before that time had existed under specific government
charters, and it took some time for governments to become comfortable
with the notion that any group of people who wanted to form a
corporation could do so without explicit state approval, being
required only to meet a simple set of rules that applied to all. It
also took time to become comfortable with the notion of "limited
liability" -- that is, the now completely accepted notion that
stockholders who buy stock in a company may lose their stock, but will
not be liable for a company's debts.
Starting from that point, THE COMPANY goes on to describe the rise of
the modern corporation, particularly the rise of the US companies
during the period of "robber baron" capitalism up to the First World
War, and contrasting that with the corporate styles of other nations.
Britain, which had pioneered the legal mechanisms establishing the
modern corporation, lagged behind because of a social snobbery against
commerce, while Germany and Japan harnessed corporate energies into
service for the state.
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Format: Hardcover
"The Company" is a complete joke only necessary for those requiring extreme doses of self-delusional western imperial indoctrination (similarly to the last ridiculous poli-econ book I read, "In Defense of Global Capitalism"). But then as the U.S. is experiencing "imperial implosion" (my term) burying one's head in the sand does provide momentary bliss. My "dissident" views are in common with the struggling masses of the world -- the involuntary recipients of western imperialism -- as demonstrated recently at Cancun. Even though the highly literate (i.e. indoctrinated) Twin Cities, Minnesota is still completely ignorant (and blissful) about the consequences of Cargill, the rest of the world has spoken clearly in Cancun. The Cancun action is just the latest action by a continuous 500 year majority view that was INACCURATELY glossed over by "the Company." (just read Professor Noam Chomsky's "Year 501: The Conquest Continues." Chomsky is a best-seller in Canada, Europe and Latin America -- similarly to the less scholarly Michael Moore's "Stupid White Men" that has rapidly sold 4 million copies. Chomsky was the key-note speaker at the World Social Forum in Rio a few years book. The gathering was representive of the vast majority position) Joint-stock companies DID NOT "uncover the wealth" of Latin America, Africa and Asia as claimed in one particularly key sentence in "the Company." (To continue my example, the Twin Citie's Cargill currently replacing the Amazon rainforest with soybean farms is not "uncovering the wealth" of Latin America). With such gross inaccuracies in "the Company," this book might as well state that the U.S. corporate-state funded holocaust did not happen -- a neo-fascist position that more accurately categorizes the true nature of "the Company.Read more ›
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