Are Corporations People (Redux)? Why Jack Welch Is Wrong

The “are corporations people?” debate returned to the public eye when Elizabeth Warren made it part of her speech to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Warren has had an ongoing feud with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on the topic, with Romney saying corporations are people and Warren saying they are not. Unfortunately, the debate really hasn’t progressed beyond slogans.

The only substantive discussion of the topic was a recent article by Jack (and Suzy) Welch in The Wall Street Journal. They launched a broadside against those who say corporations aren’t people, arguing that it was simply doublespeak, and that “when people say that corporations aren’t people, what they really want to say is, “Business is evil.”

I don’t agree. Corporations are the foundation of wealth creation, innovation, jobs, markets and the economy in our society. Despite their flaws they have proven to be the most effective form of organization for such tasks. However, while corporations contain people, and are owned by people, they are not people per se. This is not to denigrate them, but to apply a bit of precision to the discussion.

Read my full article in The Huffington Post.

Don Tapscott

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Don Tapscott, one of the world's leading authorities on business strategy, is Chairman of Moxie Insight. He was founder and chairman of the international think tank New Paradigm before its acquisition 2007. Read more about Don.