Friday, August 26, 2016

"The Vanishing American Corporation" - by Gerald F. Davis: A Review, of Sorts


In my efforts to keep up with business and employment trends, I often come across books and online sources that seem to jump out at me. This book is among them. 

You've probably heard again and again how the 'corporation' is destroying America, maybe even the world. So much power, most of the money going to a small number of the 'Elite', sending jobs offshore to cheaper labor markets and so on. Well, it may get much worse before it gets better.

Gerald F. Davis has written a both alarming and surprisingly hopeful book titled The Vanishing American Corporation (2016).*

In the book, he describes the rise of the corporation at the beginning of the 20th century, how it pushed America forward, hired millions of people, and kept the wheels of business moving in the world. Not everyone has been happy with the consequences, but we still live in a world created and dominated by giants like GM, Exxon, and Walmart. 

According to Davis, not for much longer.

What's happening? 

In today's world, these big monsters have not only become top heavy, they are on the decline. The number of corporations in 1995 has been halved and many have gone bankrupt or even closed their doors. The result is a loss of millions of jobs--and a familiar if 'uncomfy' way of life. 

But that's not all. With those losses comes a new kind of the worker (and workplace). I call them the Temp-est Tossed. It may sound unpleasant but it goes something like this:

  • No permanent jobs; only contract or assignment jobs, that is, temporary, so no benefits like health care
  • Mostly high tech, few if any manufacturing jobs
  • Many kinds of popular college degrees will become obsolete
  • Rising number of low paying jobs in the growing health care industry as the Boomer generation continues to age and retire
  • And the dream of upward mobility seen in previous generations may well be a pipe dream for the current Millennial Generation and beyond
Chapter titles include:


(Chapter 2) How the corporation conquered America
(Chapter 5) Shareholders get the upper hand
(Chapter 7) The public corporation becomes obsolete
(Chapter 9) The disappearing social safety net
(Chapter 11) Declining upward mobility

There is hope, however. In Chapter 14, Davis writes of 'Navigating a post corporation economy' and seems to feel all is not lost. 

America since the Civil War has gone through many, often exasperating changes. From Reconstruction and Jim Crow, to the Great Society and the Great Recession; from world wars and big bomb drops, to immigration and terrorist issues, we've managed somehow to come through it all. And we will again.

The corporation may be disappearing, to be replaced by some new form of employment challenge, but Americans are resilient. They'll adapt...like always. Even if it hurts a bit.

One more thing: Entrepreneurship, that is, creating small businesses, is on the rise. If you have talent, or a great idea, you may be the Next Big Thing.

The future, as usual, is bright.

*Rating: 8 out of 10. I recommend this book.)



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