For Profit: A History of Corporations

William Magnuson

We have long been suspicious of corporations recklessly pursuing profit and amassing wealth and power. But the story of the corporation didn't have to be like this: for most of history, they were not amoral entities, but public institutions designed to promote the societies that granted them charter. What happens in this next chapter of the global economy depends on whether we can return to their public-minded spirit, or whether we have sunk irrevocably into the swamp of high profit at all costs.

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Book Information

Publisher: Basic Books
Publish Date: 11/08/2022
Pages: 368
ISBN-13: 9781541601567
ISBN-10: 1541601564
Language: English

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A history of how corporate innovation has shaped society, from ancient Rome to Silicon Valley Americans have long been skeptical of corporations, and that skepticism has only grown more intense in recent years. Meanwhile, corporations continue to amass wealth and power at a dizzying rate, recklessly pursuing profit while leaving society to sort out the costs.

In For Profit, law professor William Magnuson argues that the story of the corporation didn't have to come to this. Throughout history, he finds, corporations have been purpose-built to benefit the societies that surrounded them. Corporations enabled everything from the construction of ancient Rome's roads and aqueducts to the artistic flourishing of the Renaissance to the rise of the middle class in the twentieth century. By recapturing this original spirit of civic virtue, Magnuson argues, corporations can help craft a society in which all of us--not just shareholders--benefit from the profits of enterprise.

About the Author

William Magnuson is an associate professor at Texas A&M Law School, where he teaches corporate law. Previously, he taught law at Harvard University. The author of Blockchain Democracy, he has written for the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Bloomberg.

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