New Internationalist

The Corporate View

Issue 085

International corporations speak for themselves about their role in undeveloped countries and the new economic order they are building.

"It (the international corporation) provides knowledge … develops skilled workers and pays wages commensurate with skills: multinational corporations expand the middle-class of the host countries … provide the consumers of host countries with superior products at reasonable prices and, finally, in the process of creating wealth in the host countries and profits for itself, the corporation generates a considerable amount of tax income for the government. The government distributes this tax income, in the form of education, national services, and other social calls as it sees fit … The benefits rebound down to the local populations in a multitude of ways."
R.R. Millhiser, President, Phillip Morris (Tobacco) Co.

"Working through great corporations that straddle the earth, men are able for the first time to utilize world resources with an efficiency dictated by the objective logic of profit … (the world corporation) is planning and acting well in advance of the world’s political ideas … it is a modern concept, designed to meet modern requirements . . (whereas the nation state) . . badly adapted to our present complex world … Corporations that buy, sell, and produce abroad have the power to affect the lives of people and nations in a manner that necessarily challenges the prerogatives and responsibilities of political authority. How can a national government make an economic plan with any confidence if aboard of directors meeting 5,000 miles away can by altering its pattern of purchasing and production affect in a major way the country’s economic life? But the World Manager’s answer to the charge of being a political usurper is not to deny the extraordinary power he seeks to exercise in human affairs but to rationalize it."
George Ball, (former US Under Secretary of State) Lehman Brothers International

"They (multinationals) have become agents of change and progress for they are building what, for all intents and purposes, must be considered a new world economic system: one in which the constraints of geography have yielded to the logic of efficiency."
Jacques Maisonrouge Former Chairman International Business Machines

"For host countries, multinational companies are a powerful engine for growth, especially in developing nations as foreign government aid tapers off. Multinational companies invest capital, create jobs, introduce technological improvements … in short, they are a positive force for economic progress. The host country can win by welcoming multinational corporations and learning all they have to teach. "
Ford Motor Co., ‘A Global Corporation’ publicity pamphlet.

"The World Company, owned, managed, and operated without regard to the physical, political, and philosophical boundaries o f nationalism can well become a reality in this century … if we make things happen, if we look at the entire world as a market, and as a factory site, if we count customers before we count populations … if we structure world business to satisfy the needs and demands of the world’s people, then business can, and will, become the moving force for world progress, and free enterprise will bring healthier, happier, and more productive lives to people everywhere … By the end of this decade of decisions (the Seventies) . . business could have a bright global look…"
E.D. de Windt, Eaton Corporation

"In the conduct of the corporation’s affairs we accept a true social responsibility towards our employees, our shareholders, our customers and the communities where we operate. It is worth stating the other points of principle which we try to follow:

  • First, we believe there should be a maximum delegation of decision-making to the operating companies, exercising only the minimum of authority to take advantage of the financial, commercial and technical strength at the centre;

  • secondly, we believe we should aim at the highest possible proportion of our employees, including senior management, being nationals of the country where we are working;

  • thirdly, we seek increasingly to ensure that nationals of the country are appointed to the Board of each overseas corporation;

  • fourthly, we recognise the need in developing countries to assist employment opportunities and foreign exchange earnings by giving full consideration to further processing where this is practicable;

  • fifthly, we believe that the people of an overseas host country should progressively be able to participate financially in their major enterprises."

Sir Mark Turner Chief Executive Rio Tinto Zinc,

"Among the most important reasons for the internationalization of the multinational corporation is to increase its utility in the developing world. Its role in the development process becomes more urgently clear every day, as we witness the limitations and handicaps of local governments … the enormous complexities of the development process require abilities and attributes which are as natural to the multinational corporation as they are unnatural to government."
United Fruit Co. Annual Report

"We do not pretend we invest without the expectation of profit. Indeed, it would be wrong for us to do so. Profit is the best guide to the most economical use of resources and the developing countries cannot afford to waste resources. Profit is the main source of investment for the future; and investment is vitally needed if their (developing countries) structural problems are to be solved … In most cases, these (developing) countries do want investment. Publicly, they say they don’t want dominance by the multinationals and that they don’t want economic colonialism. But, privately, they are very anxious that we should be active in their countries, bringing in new technology, cash and creating new employment. Very often they like to feel that we know what their problems are so that they can encourage us to invest more."
Sir David Orr, Chairman, Unilever, 19

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