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The Selfish Organization: Technology and the Rise of Transnational Corporatism

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These pundits argue that major corporations affect how society is organized, and that how society is organized will ultimately determine the destiny of the world. Their contentions include that major corporations influence our foreign policy, national leadership and economy.


In President Eisenhower's farewell address to the nation on January 17, 1961, he expressed concern about the growing power of what he termed the "military industrial complex." Some fifty years later, the question is--has industry positioned itself to usurp our democracy?


According to David G. Mills in his article, It's the CorporateState, Stupid (2004)


"The structure of fascism is the union, marriage, merger or fusion of    corporate economic power with governmental power. It is the  consolidation of this power that produces the demagogues and regimes we  understand as fascist ones."   (p.1)


A brief examination of the history of organizational technology and politics associated with the rise of the corporation provides insight into the nature of corporate influence today. It also elicits critical questions as to what the corporate sector may ultimately have in store for the world.


The interest of industry, particularly the multi-national or transnational corporation, has always included influence over nations and/or their populations. The first transnational corporation, the Dutch East India Company, was founded in 1602 "when the State General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia." (, Dutch East India Company, retrieved  October 7, 2012). Based on the activities of colonialism then, the impetus for the first transnational corporation was environmental exploitation and profit through the policy and practice of harsh and dehumanizing control over weaker peoples via puppet regimes.


The cornerstone for modern corporate influence over the people of Europe and the United States was laid with the application of the principles found in Adam Smith's book, The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776. The cornerstone is division of labor.

The specialization of tasks that Smith described dramatically increased the potential for labor to produce more with the same number of individuals. This evolution of human organization laid the foundation for the industrial revolution that dramatically influenced Western work and sociopolitical environments.


During the early 1900s, workers were viewed through the lens of the economic-man theory. This theory held that people are motivated, in terms of work, almost entirely by economic gain. The theory seemed substantiated at the time because as industry grew, it produced more jobs. These jobs inspired more and more people to leave agricultural settings and move to small towns and growing cities where they could reap the greater economic benefits of industry (Carrell, Jennings and Heavrin, 1997).

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John G. Mentzos earned his Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development from the Union Institute. For more than 25 years he has consulted with leaders in nonprofit management, government, foundations, business, education, human services and (more...)

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