Opening essay for GTI forum Corporations in the Crosshairs
In Success and Luck, Robert Frank underscores the role of "dumb luck" in determining winners and losers, debunking the cherished myth of meritocracy. But how can we get the fortunate to share the spoils?
Social Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)—the analysis of social impacts spanning the complete value chain of a product or process—has never been more important than it is today for understanding and correcting widespread social injustices. In an increasingly interdependent world, we need to think and analyze systematically. Social LCA helps us expose in systemic fashion the social consequences of the dominant global development paradigm and, in so doing, has a vital role to play in redirecting global change towards a Great Transition future.
The ascent of transnational corporations poses fundamental questions of accountability, regulation, and democratic process. Although their footprints cross continents, TNCs still operate under legal licenses granted by national or state authority. In order to rectify the incongruence between global impacts and state control, and to align corporate behavior with social and ecological purpose, we propose a World Corporate Charter Organization. By defining the obligations of TNCs, global charters would balance the current emphasis of international institutions, such as the World Trade Organization, on TNC rights. With public concern about corporate power on the rise, the moment is propitious for establishing transnational governance of transnational corporations, a precondition for attaining just and sustainable societies.
Allen White traces the genesis, growth, and evolution of the modern corporation and its role in wealth creation. He outlines a vision for the future of the corporation that reflects the core values of human solidarity, ecological sustainability, and quality of life. He then explores the way forward to realize such a values-based shift in the design and operation of the corporation.