This whole line
about corporations being psychopaths is really starting to catch on.
The Australian Institute of Company Directors had a panel at their big
conference in Perth on Friday with the following description:

If the corporation were a person would that person be a
psychopath? Do people become alienated from the traditional morals that
guide human relationships as they pursue the goal of the collective
organisation? How do we ensure that corporate objectives and societal
morals and expectations are not mutually exclusive?

The session at Perth’s new $45 million police academy in Joondalup was
well attended, with former WA Premier Richard Court, Dr Don Stammer and
yours truly having a really good interactive two-hour session with
about 60 of the 500-plus at the conference. Crikey gave church-going
Woolworths CEO Roger Corbett a slap for leaving his Christian values at
home by making Woolworths Australia’s biggest sin company through its
burgeoning liquor and pokies business.

It
was very heartening to hear Richard Court explain that exposure to the
damage of gambling through his local church was a key reason why his
government resisted the pressure to introduce poker machines outside
Burswood casino. The Gallop Labor government has maintained the ban,
leaving WA alone as the only state or territory not hooked on pokies
revenue.

It’s interesting to track back where this whole
“corporations are psychopaths” line emerged from, because the same
theory was explored only last ThursdayThe New York Times.

Canadians
Joel Bachan and Mark Achbar look to be directly responsible. Bachan is
a Canadian academic who produced a book in 2003 called The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power. Bachan then collaborated with Canadian documentary maker Mark Achbar to produce the three hour polemic, The Corporation, which
is now one of the five most successful political documentaries ever
made. We emailed Achbar on Thursday to ask how the doco is travelling
and he replied as follows:

I can say that it’s grossed over $A6 million theatrically
worldwide and has sold over 100,000 DVDs (15,000 of them in Australia,
10,000 in UK, 35,000 in Canada and 40,000 in US that I’m aware of) so
far, but several countries have yet to report. Also it’s still opening
theatrically in some countries, and many have yet to report. If
anyone’s interested, the film has yet to break even, in part due to the
reporting lag time.

Best, Mark Achbar

So now Australia’s directors wonder know how such a topic got on the
agenda of their annual gabfest. If you do happen to pick up a copy of
the DVD, Crikey’s interview with Achbar at the 2004 Melbourne
International Film Festival is one of the extras.