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New World, New Rules: The Changing Role of the American Corporation
New World, New Rules: The Changing Role of the American Corporation
By Marina v.N. Whitman
Harvard Business School Press, 1999, 256 pp
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An academic turned corporate executive, Whitman reflects on the changes in American business since her entry into the corporate world in the 1970s. The most important trend, she argues, is that the rents that oligopolistic firms once earned and distributed to their employees and communities have been squeezed by global competition and heightened shareholder demands. Paradoxically -- or perhaps consequently -- firms have also experienced increased public pressure for greater corporate responsibility, especially in matters of workplace safety and the environment. The book contains excellent chapters on the increasingly demanding role of corporate directors and on the foreign investment that allows the parent company to continue its corporate control from abroad. Whitman sees no turning back from these developments and offers suggestions to improve the U.S. economy's ability to handle the more competitive global environment -- above all, by improving health care and pension portability as workers change jobs. A well-written, comprehensive, and thoughtful book.