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The Corporation

A Film by Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott and Joel Bakan

Discussion Questions for MOS1

At the outset it is important to be aware that this film is provocative and represents the
views of the filmmakers and the people they interviewed. Our job is to assess the
whether the claims being made are relevant to managers and how they are being made
relevant. There are some images and words that may be hard to hear and look at and may
offend some viewers. Please be warned that these are the views of the filmmakers, not
mine or King’s or UWO or anyone else’s.

That being said, to assess the validity of the film’s claims it is important for you to form
your own opinions. However, the purpose of this class is to teach you to make sure you
form opinions that are informed, which means looking at both sides of the argument.
Some of the issues raised in class are emotive and may personally affect members of the
class so it may be difficult to see both sides of a highly charged issue. Therefore it is
important that you be open-minded to any comments made in the movie or in class.

The discussion questions listed below are provided to you to assist you in your
understanding of how this film “fits in” with the course. They highlight aspects of the
film that I think are relevant to what we have discussed in the past as well as to what we
will discuss and are intended to also guide you in terms of study direction of the material
in the film for the final exam. I suggest you follow the film intently and take good notes
using your answers to these questions as your framework.

Discussion questions:

1. What is a corporation?
2. What are the rights of a “legal person?”
3. How is a legal person different from a natural person?
4. How much discretion does a CEO have to impose her/his values on a corporation?
On what might this depend?
5. Do you think it is only a few CEOs that are “bad apples” or are unethical CEOs
the norm?
6. Discuss the trade-off between wealth creation and social harm? Which is more
important?
7. Are corporations unfairly labelled?
8. What caused the change in the powers/characteristics of the corporation?
9. How does the 14th amendment to the US constitution relate to the rights of the
corporation?
10. Is there such a thing as “too much” profit?
11. What are externalities? How do they relate to the corporation?

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Some of these questions and the introductory paragraph were adapted from “Study Guide for ‘The
Corporation’” by Tima Bansal, Ivey Publishing, 9B04M077, 2004

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12. Do you “buy” the argument that low cost labour can or should be a national
comparative advantage? Is low wage better than no wage?
13. Is the efficiency created by the privatization of public goods worth the potential
loss of their provision?
14. Should firms be allowed to market to children?
15. What is “undercover marketing?” Does this really happen? Provide some
potential examples.
16. Can you/should you be able to patent anything?
17. Should corporations be liable for individuals’ actions involving their products?
(For example tobacco companies and fast food companies have been successfully
sued for the resulting poor health of their users even though the users had the choice
not to use their products. In the same vein, in the last week of October 2005, gun
manufacturers quietly received legal protection from courts in case they are sued by
victims of violent crimes perpetrated by users of their products).