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Taming the Octopus

Nonfiction: Politics
Unabridged   8.5 hour(s)
Publication date: 02/20/2024

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Taming the Octopus

The Long Battle for the Soul of the Corporation

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Digital Download ISBN:9781696614207


The untold story of how efforts to hold big business accountable changed American capitalism.

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Product Description

The untold story of how efforts to hold big business accountable changed American capitalism.

In this vivid and surprising history, we meet twentieth-century activists, investors, executives, and workers who fought over a simple question: Is the role of the corporation to deliver profits to shareholders, or something more? On one side were "business statesmen" who believed corporate largess could solve social problems. On the other were libertarian intellectuals such as Milton Friedman and his oft-forgotten contemporary, Henry Manne, whose theories justified the ruthless tactics of a growing class of corporate raiders. But Kyle Edward Williams reveals that before the "activist investor" emerged as a capitalist archetype, Civil Rights groups used a similar playbook for different ends, buying shares to change a company from within.

As a rising tide of activists pushed corporations to account for societal harms from napalm to environmental pollution to inequitable hiring, a new idea emerged: that managers could maximize value for society while still turning a maximal profit. This elusive ideal, "stakeholder capitalism," still dominates our headlines today. Williams's necessary history equips us to reconsider democracy's tangled relationship with capitalism.

Author Bio

Kyle Edward Williams, a historian of the modern United States, is senior editor of the Hedgehog Review and fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.