Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “When Corporations Rule the World” as Want to Read:
When Corporations Rule the World
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

When Corporations Rule the World

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  596 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
When Corporations Rule the World has become a modern classic. Korten's warnings about the growing global power of multinational corporations seem prophetic today. This new edition has been revised throughout to make it more accessible to the general reader, and features a new introduction, a new epilogue, and three new chapters. While Korten points out that the multination ...more
Paperback, Second Edition, 408 pages
Published May 1st 2001 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers (first published January 1st 1995)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about When Corporations Rule the World, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about When Corporations Rule the World

This Changes Everything by Naomi KleinThe Shock Doctrine by Naomi KleinThe Ecological Rift by John Bellamy FosterThe Millennial Reincarnations by Daniel M. HarrisonNo Logo by Naomi Klein
Market Greed
6th out of 23 books — 26 voters
The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein1984 by George OrwellThe Ecological Rift by John Bellamy FosterNickel and Dimed by Barbara EhrenreichManufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky
Books that tell you what REALLY is going on!
54th out of 191 books — 93 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,835)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
This is an extraordinary book. It has taken me longer than usual to read it because it's not the kind of book you can race through and really grasp the concepts. Korten's writing is dryish, but clear. His arguments meticulously defined, logical and thorough. He traces how we, in our economic structuring of the social order, have created a world of continuing and increasing want even as the same capitalistic solutions---touted and installed over and over again---continue to perpetuate that want a ...more
May 08, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, dark
A disturbing review of the history and present of the corporation. Should be required reading.
Jan 31, 2014 Clinton rated it did not like it
When Corporations Rule the World is a testament to the misunderstanding and lack in knowledge of economics. The author needs to understand the difference between free market capitalism and crony capitalism. The author thinks he is describing the ill wills of free market capitalism, but in reality, it is crony capitalism. Crony capitalism is soft fascism, the only difference there is no dictatorship. Sure, some corporations are mischievous and rapacious but only with the help of government. Gover ...more
Dec 29, 2007 Amy rated it it was amazing
what shitty little people we are
Jan 11, 2016 Bryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For anyone who has doubts about how pervasive corporations are in global politics, this is a book you need to read. Korten published the original edition, which is the bulk of this 20 year anniversary edition, in 1995, but it is as fresh as it was then in unveiling the make-believe world of phantom wealth--money that is not based on any useful product or service. The mantra of continuous growth that, according to libertarian economic theory, will eventually lead to the end of poverty is a myth, ...more
Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership
One of Cambridge Sustainability's Top 50 Books for Sustainability, as voted for by our alumni network of over 3,000 senior leaders from around the world. To find out more, click here.

When Corporations Rule the World suggests that the promises of the global economy are based on a number of myths: that growth in GNP is a valid measure of human well-being and progress; that free unregulated markets efficiently allocate a society's resources; that growth in trade benefits ordinary people; that econo
Jan 09, 2009 Joseph rated it really liked it
This is a great book, even for those who disagree with everything it says. People should read this book, along with Bastiat's THE LAW, and then download Eric-Charles Banfield's article BUSINESS-GOVERNMENT COLLUSION. cuz you see, the government is the enabler for what gets by in Korten's book. Also read the article Welfare for the Rich, by Robert Murphy i think. both articles can be found at

If big gov and big bizness can continue to combine powers, we can continue to screw the world.
Mar 08, 2014 Hamad rated it it was amazing
I didn't just read this book, I studied it. Literally, with highlighters and notepads.

I only give five-stars to life changing books. Although I disagree with few points in parts V and VI, this book is without a doubt life-changing.

I also think it's a crime not to read this book. David C Korten spent so many years of his life doing research and writing this enlightening books that takes only a few hours to read.

Again, although I do disagree with a few of his points I still think this is a must r
Beth Barnett
May 28, 2007 Beth Barnett rated it liked it
Invaluable resource for understanding the activities of the WTO, IMF, World Bank, and international development and trade policies. Describes the historical development of these aid agencies and the global financial market (globalization), and some of the wrong turns they have taken. Korten also discusses people-centered aide and the pro-democracy movements that are forming in the developing world and the Industrial nations.
Joseph Montuori
Aug 02, 2015 Joseph Montuori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although the focus of When Corporations Rule the World is one of my favorite topics –ecological economics – it is no easy read.

Despite the slog, Korten's analysis is more comprehensive, more historical, and more insightful than other similar works. I walked away with a much deeper and broader understanding of how we got to this point in human society and global destruction. All the more amazing that I can say this of a 1995 edition in the year 2015. I have not read the 20th anniversary edition
Korten does an excellent job explaining the problems caused by our modern global corporate capitalist economic system, the causes of that system, and some methods by which we can change the system. Good use of examples and comparison to Adam Smith's theories.
As with most non-fiction, I struggled to finish this, but, nonetheless, thought it was a powerful, very worthwhile exercise. Very compelling position on the impact of corporations--kind of a companion to the documentary "The Corporation."
Alanoud (Anna)
I'd really rather not rate this book. However, here's a review:
I read it for my International Political Economy class for a book presentation and since I had one week to read it and was taking 3 other classes at the same time I decided to split reading the book with a classmate. I read the first 3 parts/chapters. I wanted to get a general info about the author to get an idea of how the book is going to be structured and so I have to say this I felt kinda intimidated criticizing this knowing he w
Joe Sherman
May 12, 2009 Joe Sherman rated it really liked it
An absolute must read. You know that basically everything in the world is wrong, but you don't know why things are so bad. Read this book and you will understand.
Dec 14, 2008 Zada added it
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book is an important read for EVERYONE! It was written back in 1995 and it's amazing how many of the predictions have come true.
Apr 20, 2009 Peter rated it really liked it
Makes me want to go out and kill a corporate CEO LOL...still reading this though
Claire S
Mar 02, 2010 Claire S marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Claire by: GR activity.
Shelves: a-tobe-shelved
Mmmm, must read!
Jan 25, 2015 Marshall rated it it was ok
This is one of those books that are probably very persuasive to those who already agree with its premise. I was one of them when I first added this book to my list, but now that I've gotten around to reading it 15 years later, I'm not very impressed. It says a lot, but mostly just seems like new ways of re-stating the premise, rather than supporting it with evidence. Here's a typical paragraph:

This is the globally competitive market at work, forcing localities to absorb private costs to increase
Sep 07, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it
It reads like a textbook which in the beginning made it hard for me to read. Numbers and statistics don't usually keep me interested in a book. But overall, everything it discussed was informative and now I feel that I understand more about corporations than I previously did. Three fourths of the book cover how corporations have already messed up on some scale and overall that makes it a somewhat depressing read if you're part of the "I'm going to save the world" mindset. The final fourth of the ...more
Mary Woods
Aug 25, 2009 Mary Woods rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oct 24, 2012 Andy rated it liked it
I always get a little fidgety when authors start talking about the spiritual aspect of whatever. Maybe it is my association of this word with religion, maybe I just don't buy it. Whatever the case, Korten uses the word and I cringe. This is not to say that what he writes about drips with god or an appeal to a higher power. Korten is a believer in the markets and maybe has read Adam Smith more closely than the free marketers who reference him all the time. This seems quite likely to me since so m ...more
Feb 08, 2013 Siddhartha rated it really liked it
This book should be made a text book (not the only one of course!) for all students of Economics, Politics and Journalism.

4.5 starts from me.

There were parts of the book which i do not agree with, and then there were parts which i did not completely understand. Requires a re-read i think. But most of the book is very readable, with analogies from popular culture to explain complicated topics.

David Korten presents a lot of facts before proceeding to make his arguments. Whatever disposition you a
Sep 30, 2012 Justin rated it it was amazing
I have read this book in its entirety at least three times, that is how much I enjoyed it. My PhD friend says that it is not rigorous enough to assign to her students and prefers assigning The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs. To me, this belies a total misunderstanding because first, they aren't comparable texts as they explore issues that cross but are fundamentally different. Second, because Jeffrey Sachs approaches poverty abolition in a way that ignores the forces so carefully explained in K ...more
The political economy of globalized neoliberal capitalism, in detail.

In a system that consolidates power in the hands of a few inter-generational, wealthy politicians and their mindless ("blameless"), profit-driven businesses, there are no incentives to redistribute that power. Policy interventions that target any one aspect of that system, like welfare safety nets or environmental regulations, may alleviate some suffering and may even offer control of a particular part of people’s lives to the
Oct 21, 2013 Al rated it really liked it
Very well written, it feels almost like a textbook. The author really has a grasp on the whole picture, and he uses his masterful economic skills to clearly point out the (deliberate) faults in the world economic system. Very similar to the Super Imperialism book by Michael Hudson.

No conspiracies here either, the clear minded approach precisely points out that economic gatherings of world elite such as the Council of Foreign Affairs and the Bilderbergs are secret for the very purpose of keeping
Silvio Curtis
Sep 25, 2010 Silvio Curtis rated it it was amazing
A sort of handbook of anti-corporatism. David Korten doesn't come across as trying to speak for everyone in the social movement he identifies with, but most of opinions seem a lot like those of a lot of people I know - except that they've never systematically explained their opinions to me. I hope to use this as a reference point to compare people's viewpoints to. Though I do have significant reservations, I much prefer Korten's outlook to the mainstream neoliberal one. For me, the most importan ...more
Aug 10, 2010 Michael rated it liked it
Shelves: gave-up
I spent about six months reading this very long, dense book. I'd pick it up, read a chapter, put it down for a few weeks, then do the same thing again. I got about half way through it before finally giving it up for good. It's a well written, frightening book...but it's very dated. The original version came out in 1992 or something, and the second edition followed in 2000. The general thrust of the book--corporations suck, and are destroying the world--is still very applicable, but the data is j ...more
May 30, 2014 Tom rated it really liked it
Much as it can waddle in liberal delusion ("we need a spiritual awakening"), this is a beautiful book with a heartfelt and accurate portrayal of the status quo as well as a wise prescription of what should replace our materialist state.
Apr 16, 2015 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Although there is a 2001 updated edition, I read the 1995 because that is what my library system has. I learned so much from this author and I will be reading this book again (I'll buy the updated version) and seeking out others by David C. Korten. The explanations of economic, social and political policies and issues make the current situation in our nation and the world crystal clear.
Roger Buck
Jul 12, 2014 Roger Buck rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, incisive overview of who's running the world as well as how we got to this situation. In-depth, but really a very good accessible introduction to the whole tragedy, as well.

I have a longer review of it here:
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 61 62 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism
  • Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights
  • Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World: A 25-Point Program for Action
  • For the Common Good: Redirecting the economy toward community, the environment, and a sustainable future.
  • On Disobedience and Other Essays
  • Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism
  • The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power
  • The Long Descent: A User's Guide to the End of the Industrial Age
  • The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too
  • Against Empire
  • The Winner-Take-All Society: Why the Few at the Top Get So Much More Than the Rest of Us
  • Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich
  • When the Rivers Run Dry: Water--The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century
  • The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America
  • The New Industrial State
  • Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace
  • The Great Work: Our Way into the Future
  • Land of Desire: Merchants, Power, and the Rise of a New American Culture
Dr. David C. Korten worked for more than thirty-five years in preeminent business, academic, and international development institutions before he turned away from the establishment to work exclusively with public interest citizen-action groups. He is the cofounder and board chair of YES! Magazine, the founder and president of The People-Centered Development Forum, a board member of the Business Al ...more
More about David C. Korten...

Share This Book