Corporate Rules of the Game
by Jerry Mander
The corporate world is fortified by a complex web of factories,
workers, machinery and money: all dedicated to producing a return
on the investment of owners and stock holders. To reach that goal,
all corporations share similar values and follow similar rules.
Rule #1-Make a Buck
Corporations define success in two basic ways: the growth of assets
and the rate of profit. These goals take precedence over concerns
for the community or nation in which the corporation does business.
There is a strong tension between the corporation's desire for
profits and the demands of workers for a decent wage.
Rule #2-Be Aggressive
Successfully climbing the corporate ladder means being aggressive
and competitive. Colleagues compete fiercely with each other for
promotions; workers are encouraged to compete with each other
through special awards in order to increase productivity and profits.
The Japanese labor-management approach of 'teamwork' in the plant
merely shifts competition from individual workers to groups of
workers. This urge to compete is now seen as basic human nature.
Rule #3-Look After Number One
Decision-making within a corporation is ruled by the bottom line.
In practice this means the interests of the corporation and the
interests of the community only overlap when it serves the corporation's
purpose. A company may sponsor a baseball team, donate money to
a hospital or underwrite a community orchestra, but corporate
altruism is usually more public relations than community spirit.
The fight to make corporations socially responsible will always
be an uphill battle since corporations are inherently selfish.
Their essential responsibility is to their own financial survival,
not to the welfare of the public.
Rule #4-Follow Orders
The organizational structure of the corporate world is based on
a strict pecking-order. There is a hierarchy of command and control
that extends from the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer
down to the lowliest workers at the bottom. Your place in the
pecking-order determines your power, your rewards and your privileges.
Orders flow from the top down as they do in other large institutions
that use a strict hierarchy, such as the military and the government.
Notions of hierarchy and status within the corporate world tend
to reinforce the idea that inequality and conformity are natural:
the world is made of leaders and followers and there is little
we can do to change this fact of life.
Rule #5-Embrace Technology
The modern corporation is both a creature and a captive of technology.
Companies are engaged in a restless search for technological innovation
to boost efficiency (i.e., increase revenue with less labor and
capital). Thus all technology is considered benign and objective.
In fact, modern technologies are biased toward the technocratic
world view that produces them. This view is based on linear thinking
and a tendency to segment and quantify the world. Corporations
are so fascinated by technology, they have no time for non-material
values: Old-growth forests are so many board-feet of lumber; toxic
wastes are subject to cost-benefit analysis; workers fighting
for improved working conditions are threats to profitability.
Rule #6-Join the Crowd
Corporations view the world as one big market: Social relationships
are defined in terms of buying and selling, and human activity
is seen as a straightforward battle to gain advantage over your
neighbor. The result of this market vision is that human happiness
and satisfaction are defined in terms of what we buy. Multinational
corporations have been remarkably successful in spreading their
attitudes and values around the globe. Television, advertising
and films carry the corporate market view everywhere, steamrolling
local culture in the process. This growing homogenization destroys
opposition to the 'consumer society,' obliterates cultural diversity
and accelerates the destruction of natural resources.
Rule #7-Don't Look Back
Corporations have no allegiance to the present because they are
riveted on the future and the need to grow. This consuming passion
effectively removes them from the day-to-day concerns of the local
community. With their eyes fixed firmly on tomorrow, corporations
have little commitment to solving the mundane problems of everyday
life. Staying flexible in order to be profitable means multinationals
can and do pack up and move at the drop of a hat. Inside the corporation,
life is highly-structured and geared to the clock. Yet corporations
can be strangely ephemeral. The future is possibility; the present
merely a viewpoint; and the past irrelevant-this operating principle
undercuts the search for social stability.
Rule #8-Neutralize Nature
Corporate activities and the natural world are fundamentally at
odds. Manufacturing goods to be bought and sold in the marketplace
is essentially a process of transforming raw materials extracted
from nature into commodities. This exploitation of the environment
is ingrained in corporate behavior: even service and financial
corporations depend indirectly on the conquest of nature. As consumerism
spreads around the globe, the search for raw materials accelerates
and the ravaging of nature quickens. In an attempt to absorb criticism
from environmentalists, multinationals have wrapped themselves
in green rhetoric. Yet any serious attempt to challenge the underlying
consumerist credo is still dismissed as subversive-which in essence
exerpted from the book
CORPORATIONS ARE GOING TO GET YOUR MAMA
edited by Kevin Danaher
Common Courage Press
Monroe, Maine 04951
phone - 207-525-0900
fax - 207-525-3068
Gonna Get Mama
Corporations & the Third World