This chapter introduces the modern American business corporation. It reveals that American business is a subject of wonder for the limited liability and liquid shares that have given entrepreneurs and professional managers the power to concentrate and use capital for innovative and risky projects which create technological miracles and human comforts. The chapter discusses how the extraordinary contemporary success of the American corporation—which appears to bring great prosperity at home and has come to dominate economies abroad—is based on the false premise that the corporation's purpose is to maximize shareholder value or, in more common terms, stock price. It also explains that healthy business and a healthy economy depend on a thorough understanding of the corporation's role in modern society and its responsibilities as well as its rights.
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