Book review: Corporation 2020: Transforming business for tomorrow's world

14th January 2013

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Corporation 2020: Transforming business for tomorrow’s world

Pavan Sukhdev / Island Press / Hardback £18.99 / ISBN 978-1-61091-238-9

In this book, Pavan Sukhdev tries to convince us that the bell has tolled for “business as usual”, as he paints a picture of two entities, Corporation 2020 and Corporation 1920.

Corporation 1920 is characterised by the excesses of consumption, extravagant senior management salaries, misleading advertising, corporate lobbying and financial leveraging, supported by a legal framework that protects it and even provides a financial bailout if one is needed.

Corporation 2020, meanwhile, requires commitment to higher purposes such as transparency with regards its impacts, employee ownership and resource taxation.

Uniquely for a book on corporate responsibility, an economic lens is applied to the sustainability debate, with the heart of the argument being a redefinition of capital that extends beyond monetary confines to include natural capital.

The author concedes that capitalism has dispelled other economic models, but highlights its failures, including significant disparities in incomes and environmental degradation.

Sadly, there is also a subtle awareness that there is inertia when it comes to changing Corporation 1920 – a reluctance to “kill the goose that laid the golden egg”. Which is why this book begins with an appeal to the students of today – the leaders of tomorrow – to make Corporation 2020 a reality.

Review by Lowellyne James, lecturer at Robert Gordon University


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