Jacoby finds no evidence to support New Left charges that the U.S. has become a "corporate state." In fact, he says, corporate political power is waning, conglomeration is tapering off, the corporate share of the nation's wealth is holding steady at 28%.
Competition, says Jacoby, is on the increase. Where price and quality of materials and manufacturing were once the only factors, mushrooming technology, new business practices and new markets have created new competitive pressures. An increasing variety of product features, services, warranties, credit terms and trade-in allowances have multiplied consumer choices. As a smaller and smaller proportion of personal income is spent on necessities, competition between different kinds of products has become more important (should discretionary income go for a sail boat or a trip to Europe?). In many industries, increasing competition from foreign manufacturers is a factor. Rapid changes in business practices and technology have even made potential competition from entering firms and new products animportant consideration.
Still, Jacoby sees much need for improvement. He proposes measures to increase the political power of the consumer, upgrade the performance of boards of directors, expand the involvement of stockholders in company decision-making, encourage environmental responsibility, and make defense companies function efficiently.
For the future, Jacoby predicts the continued decline of corporate power as government regulation expands and new, competing interest blocs spring up. At the same time corporations will become more responsive to changing social values and priorities. The rapid growth of multinational firms, he believes, will increase the stability of the world order and promote the growth of regional and world-wide political organization.
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