ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

December 1997


Whole Foods Includes Whole Self
Capitalizing on Human Resources Encourages Growth at Whole Foods Market

Making Waves With Employee Recognition
Rewards and Recognition Practices at Sea World

Honeywell's High Flying Division Shows Company The Way To Participation
Union-Management Relations Help Airplane Part Manufacturer Excel


Freedom's Just Another Word
by Peter Block

Highs and Lows Of Participation
by Cathy Kramer


Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Views for a Change

Book Review


Book Reviews With A Twist

When Corporations Rule The World
(a novel by David C. Korten)

Upon first hearing the title "When Corporations Rule the World," I pictured a space movie with Star-Trek-like creatures pressing buttons that instantly affected billions of people billions of light years away. Early on it was obvious my fantasy was off base. This is now. This is real time. They do rule.

"Corporations have emerged as the dominant governance institutions on the planet, with the largest among them reaching into virtually every country of the world and exceeding most governments in size and power. Increasingly, it is the corporate interest more than the human interest that defines the policy agendas of states and international bodies, although this reality and its implications have gone largely unnoticed and unaddressed."

Korten calls money "a useful but wholly substanceless and intrinsically valueless human artifact." He says "the pursuit of spiritual fulfillment has been increasingly displaced by an all-consuming and increasingly self-destructive obsession with the pursuit of money..."
Korten considers America's success as "one of the world's key problems," and points out the creation of a "Third World" within this country as the proof. He says only when we are prepared to assume responsibility for changing ourselves will others be able to fully reclaim the social and environmental space we have appropriated from them and recover their ability to meet their own needs within a just, democratic, and sustainable world of cooperative partnerships."
Korten's solutions: concentrating on sustainable livelihoods, and engaging communities in meeting individual and collective needs in environmentally responsible ways; and convincing those whose reality exists in material monism that the only reality is transcendental monism.
The moment you made a conscious decision to no longer throw trash out your car window (or your parents' car window) you began a step toward becoming a responsible global citizen. Whether you do or do not consider yourself a responsible global citizen, this book will jar your social consciousness.

Have a family member hide the key to the liquor cabinet before reading this book. You may be tempted to toss down a few single malt scotches before you get beyond the fifth chapter.

Favorite passage: "The global institutions of money have only the power we yield to them. It is our power. We can reclaim it."

What haunts me most: A line from Star Trek's Spock, "This troubled planet is a place of the most violent contrasts. Those that receive the rewards are totally separated from those who shoulder the burdens. It is not a wise leadership."

What you wouldn't hear on TV: "The $20 million that basketball star Michael Jordan reportedly received in 1992 for promoting Nike shoes exceeded the entire annual payroll of the Indonesian factories that made them."

Gotta go now, and get ready for an interview with a BIG corporation. In the immortal words of Janis Joplin, " friends all have Porsches and I must make amends."

"When Corporations Rule the World," David C. Korten, 1995, Kumarian Press, Inc., West Hartford, CT, and Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, CA,
ISBN 1-887208-00-3 pp.374. US$29.95
Reviewed by Frieda Hughes, membership & public relations associate, AQP

December '97 News for a Change | Email Editor
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